By Volunteers Sweta Singhal (FHI Guwahati) & Himani Ramwani (FHI Rajkot)
“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” — Oprah Winfrey
If you look up the word ‘mentor’ on google, you’ll find a definition that goes something like, “an experienced and trusted adviser” but is that all? Is the role of a mentor only to advise? There is a lot more a mentor can offer to a child, who has hardly any grasp on the complexity of the subject of life. A mentor can be more; they can provide guidance, motivation, emotional support, and can be a role model for a child while creating a trustworthy and nurturing bond with the children.
A particular study talks about how one in three young people grow up without a mentor and that is a very large number if we were to sit down to calculate it. Most of these children likely come from an underprivileged background. In such a scenario, it is even more necessary to undertake steps that allocate mentors the task to play a very valuable role in the lives of such children.
It is highly unlikely that children who come from underprivileged backgrounds have the privilege of a role model that they can look up to. Children are young and impressionable which results in them absorbing the qualities of those around them. In such a scenario, the absence of a good mentor, who can create a positive impact in their life, results in a tumultuous mindset that has difficulty in distinguishing right from wrong.
A mentor can lead to emotional, intellectual, and holistic growth in a child if they know how to reach out to their mentee and are successful in breaking the barriers between them. By creating a safe and comfortable environment for the mentee, a mentor can bring them out of their shell and develop a healthy relationship that ignites confidence and tenacity in a child. They can enhance life skills and social skills that, so far, have remained dormant in the child.
This gives us a vague idea about how mentors can play a key role in the overall development and growth of underprivileged youth and children, thus gaining a very significant value in their lives.
Becoming a mentor is a huge task that comes with great responsibility. Mentoring is not just beneficial for the mentees but also for the mentors. It is a two-way street. Apart from the feeling of being able to help someone change their lives for the better, mentorship also becomes an opportunity of growth for the mentors.
Think of it, when you were a school kid, you must have taught a concept to your friend. And when you taught them something, you remembered it more than before. As when you teach something to someone, you look after every aspect of it inside and out.
Every person has some good quality. A mentor can learn one thing or the other from their mentee. Any child can keep you updated with the current scenario. This also lets the child feel less inferior as they’re also giving you something in return for the knowledge you impart to them. Plus, it enhances your leadership qualities.
On the other hand, underprivileged children have very few to no positive role models in their lives. Through mentoring, they find a person they can look up to. The mentor becomes their role model and they gain valuable knowledge and life advice and develop new perspectives towards life. With mentoring, the children become self-aware of the things they can do that were never paid attention to before due to a lack of opportunities at their respective homes.
Thus, mentoring the underprivileged is about bringing out a gem from the darkest mines.
To quote Josh Shipp, “Every kid is one caring adult away from being a success story.”