By Volunteers Barsha Bharati (FHI Bhubaneswar) & Aashi Gupta (FHI Bangalore)
After her poor performance in her intermediate exams and inability to make new friends due to her introverted nature, Harsha was sure that life would be difficult for her after moving out for higher studies. She joined a women’s autonomous college for graduation and moved to the college hostel. Her mom was apprehensive and continuously prayed to God to give Harsha people who will understand her, whom she can trust, and interact with. Luckily, from day one, Harsha received a warm welcome from the kindest people out there, who wanted her to live on her terms. She was astonished by meeting people who were respecting each other with a complete contradiction of ideologies. One day, by seeing her always silent and smiling gesture, Jyoti Didi came to her and looked in her eyes and said, “Harshuu, I don’t know, but I am feeling like something is bothering you, which you are covering with your smile. You seem receptive, so I want to tell you three rules which I follow in my life,
- No one will set an environment to fulfil your desires. Say, if you want to read, you have to find a place and read. Don’t expect everyone will sit down and read with you. Do what you want to do.
- Always give priority to people with whom you are right now. Live in your present. In case of any emergency, these people would be the ones who’ll come to your rescue immediately.
- Don’t do anything free of cost. If you are doing something, at least you should learn something out of it.
Jyoti Didi was just three years older than Harsha, but her three rules are doing wonders for Harsha till date, in ways, she never explained. From Harsha’s perspective, these three pieces of advice helped her to learn something about the Ten core Life Skills (Self-awareness, Empathy, Critical and Creative thinking, Decision making, Problem Solving, Effective communication, Interpersonal relationship, Coping with stress and emotion) decided by WHO.
Mentoring is easy when you decide to observe and listen to your mentee. If you are thinking are you ready to be a mentor or not, don’t step back. You never know, your simple ideas or inputs can shape the future of a child. It doesn’t require you to be an expert in everything, but you should be a person with exceptional willingness and empathy.
But why should you mentor underprivileged children?
According to a report released in February 2019 by UNICEF and International Labour Organization (ILO), India holds 30.3% of impoverished children worldwide. Close to 9.97 crores children live in poverty-stricken conditions in our country. India is second only to sub-Saharan Africa on the database showing how many poor children live. After this pandemic year, these numbers will be increasing. The children who drop out of schools, sleep in the streets, reduced to begging to make a living, are a testimony to our unfinished job. If our education and life experiences could not bring a difference in their lives, no matter how well positioned we are, it’s not correct. The objective of education is to serve the community as a whole and to apply the knowledge gained not only for personal benefits but for public welfare. By mentoring children of today, we will contribute to making the India of tomorrow. The way we bring our underprivileged children up will determine the fortune of our country.
According to Nelson Mandela, “Our children are the rock on which our future will be built, our greatest asset as a nation. They will be the leaders of our country, the creators of our national wealth who care for and protect our people. One way we can build a better future for our children is by empowering them by allowing them to speak up for themselves. Of course, we as adults have to guide them and to take the ultimate responsibility, but that is something quite different from patronizing them. The rights of children must, importantly, include the right to be themselves and to talk for themselves.”
This quote can prove to be the key strategy of why and how a person should mentor a child. Research on formal mentoring programs in developed countries suggests that mentoring effectively improves social, educational, and career outcomes. The quality mentoring alliance helps to facilitate better psychosocial development of children. About 40% of these young adults encounter several difficulties: low self-esteem, emotional deprivation, unstable relationships to indecisiveness, and ignorance while growing to their adolescents. Mentoring focuses on building a robust one-to-one relationship, gives them a friendly and encouraging atmosphere to Indian children from poor households, it will lead many promising kids whose parents could not look into their interests or work on their talents because they are working round-the-clock ensuring the next days’ survival. As a mentor, you are going to indulge in a learning partnership. By this, you and the mentee will gain many happy and productive hours while co-creating and shaping an environment, and by developing a shared focus and a mutually respectful dynamic for a lifetime. So by beginning your journey of mentorship, you are going to discover the meaning of life.
“It is not our purpose to become each other; it is to recognize each other, to learn to see the other and honor him for what he is.” ―Hermann Hesse, Nobel Prize in Literature, 1946