Thursday, October 02, 2008

Defining and Seeking Mentors - An ear to listen, thoughts to share

How often do we find ourselves perplexed? - our beliefs questioned; in need of help to find an answer; having too many options to choose from; no one who can listen; tracing the thin line between right and wrong. The answer can't be "never" ! If as grown-ups we are caught up in the illogical haze at least rarely if not often, what about children ?

DSF's HeadStart programme currently connects with 75 such children, as the number grows, at their learning centres in Yeshwantpur and R.T Nagar. HeadStart is an initiative to assist, mentor and monitor children who are susceptible to dropping out of school at the Higher Primary stage. The programme strives to reach the most vulnerable groups like children rehabilitated from Child Labour, orphans, with single parent, disabled etc. - from dire socio economic conditions who have finished their higher primary schooling from a government school and are eager to continue education.

While the programme is committed to financially support 3 years of High School Education for a child, it is strengthened by volunteer-involvement to mentor and track the performance of the participant students and motivate them through these years. A mentor's contribution to help with the academic learning one -on -one with at the centre is a much superior experience for the child than typical classroom teaching. Over the years, several of the DSF volunteers have actively sought classroom teaching opportunities and helped the cause of improved learning. HeadStart, especially, continues to need such a forthcoming effort from all its partners. It certainly helps a child to interact with someone outside class and outside their learning environment on the softer issues of career counseling, academic improvement, identifying interests and honing particular skills- in short bridging the gap between idealism and realism, which can only be achieved by personalized mentoring.

DSF is offering a platform where useful mentor-mentee engagements can be facilitated. For 6 months to an year, the mentor should be able to meet the child once every week / fortnight. We are seeking mentors with the commitment to listen, understand and advise the children during this period. A mentor-mentee relationship can be managed better if the mentor does not get too emotionally involved with the child or provide additional financial help or rewards. The organization will support rapport building activities to ensure the relationship being built up is sound, beneficial to the mentee and self satisfying to the mentor.

It helps to know Hindi, Tamil or Kannada to be able to bond with the children. The organization provides the generic baseline structure, the programme, however, is specific to the individual being mentored. It heavily depends on the creativity and involvement of the mentor to be successful, even while DSF provides him/ her support and guidance throughout.

If you think you have the commitment and want to contribute positively to DSF's energy pool that works towards a more secure and informed future for these children, do contact us through or call on 9844060478, to schedule an orientation session.