23 June 2017




Having a meaningful dialogue with your mentee isn’t always easy. Underage drinking is a tricky subject and they’re not always going to be open to hearing what you’ve got to say.

You might feel like your experiences aren’t worth sharing, or that your mentee is giving in to peer pressure in an attempt to be accepted by their friends. The key to getting through to a young person whose mind you’re trying to shape is to put your message into terms that will leave an impression. The best way to do this is often to look at the way your personal story comes across to your mentee.


Africa has one of the strongest storytelling traditions in the world and there are hundreds of cautionary tales that make up our oral storytelling tradition. Find a story that you like, and try to put yourself in the place of the main character. Tell your story through their eyes, and keep it honest. Where did it all begin? What did you go through? How did it make you feel? What would you change if you could?


The point of mentorship is to help a young person to avoid making the mistakes that you may have made; to save them from the pain and stress that often comes with making a decision you regret. To make this message stick, you need to be truthful about your past. The point is not to scare your mentee, but to make your mentee understand that actions have consequences.


Building a relationship with your mentee can take a while, and a lot of this time will be spent trying to find common ground. Shared interests and hobbies are a good place to start, but once the foundations have been built, it’s important to go deeper. Your story is important, and your mentee deserves to hear it. It’s important that you’re a ‘guide’ to your mentee, not just a friend.


Once you’ve taken your mentee through your story, the highs and the lows, you need to then open up the conversation with your mentee. It’s important that you listen to your mentee’s thoughts, find out which parts of your story your mentee identified with and which parts your mentee couldn’t relate to. This will give you focus areas for conversation down the road, and will help to guide your mentorship journey in a direction that will be the most helpful for your mentee.


Your story could have a bigger impact than you think. For the rest of 2017, we’ll be looking for real stories of mentorship to showcase and share with our communities. If you have something to say about your past experiences, please share these with us on our social platforms. You may change the life of a young person that needs some help.

If you haven’t taken the pledge to be a mentor Be Part of the Change and take the pledge now! You can do it here.