April 24, 2012

Reflective Practice Session - April 22, 2012

The following are discussions from a Reflective Practice Session at one of the partner centers in April 22, 2012.


Tejashree mentors Poornima, a 17 year old girl who lives with her parents and aunt at Adugodi. They have met about 6 times in the last 3 months.

Poornima is pursuing her 2nd PUC in commerce from a local Govt. College. Her father is a weaver. She stays 10 mins away from the community youth center and her college is 30 mins away from her home. She takes the bus and goes to college along with her friends. In her spare time, she likes to draw. She also helps her mother in cleaning, washing and other household work.

At the initial meetings Poornima was a little nervous. But gradually she got comfortable with Tejashree. The first few conversations revolved around her upcoming exams. She was worried about her Economics and English papers. She was trying to find a Kannada medium textbook for Economics as her final exams were coming up in a few weeks.

Tejashree took some time to figure out how to help her with this but told her that she would check and get back to her. In the meanwhile she also suggested that Poornima also check with her teacher and friends to see if any alternate way can be found to get the book.

After her exams, one of the things that came up in their conversations was that she was very nervous about her exam results and worried if she would pass or fail. Tejashree tried to offer validation here.

She also said that her father may not allow her to study further. She said that she would now also be looking for work to support her family. Poornima shared that she would like a job in a big company and make a lot of money. When Tejashree asked if she has an idea what kind of work she wants, Poornima said the need was money and so anything that was better than work at supermarkets and retail shops. She asked Tejashree to help her with this plan of hers.

She also shared that most of friends have moved away from the neighbourhood and she has less friends now to talk to.

Tejashree however suggested that Poornima try to continue education as further education would enable her to earn a higher income.

At the Reflective Practice Session, Tejashree shared that she seemed a bit lost on how to help Poornima with information on jobs and careers available. At the same time felt that Poornima should continue her education and realize that further education was necessary to find better opportunities and jobs that pay. She didn’t want her to discontinue her education.

Feedback/Validation/Suggestions from the Group

  • It seems like there is a lot of sharing and validation with regards to Poornima’s concerns about her exams. This would have certainly helped her. It’s good to know that she is opening up.

  • We understand that you are probably feeling a little lost now about how to help Poornima with her need for information about jobs. You are probably also worried if you will be able to really help her and what happens if you can’t. You are probably also worried that if she discontinues her education she may lose out on better opportunities in life.

  • The group suggested that Tejashree offer more validation about Poornima’s need to find a job that earns well to support her family and her father’s resistance to further education. This might be a good place to start.
    • thinking of discontinuing education and working in-order to support her family
    • perhaps she wants to help her family and contribute in some way as things are difficult at home
    • maybe she’s finding it challenging or daunting to talk to her father about further education when the family’s financial situation is not very good.
    • or maybe she just finds it challenging to talk to her fathe
  • The group suggested that it’s okay to then give an honest response that you don’t have an answer at the moment. But you can also say that you will try to find out a few things by the next meeting. This way you are not saying ‘no you will not help her’. You are still committing to help her though the process.

  • Perhaps Tejashree and her mentee can agree to work together on finding more information. This could be an activity. Maybe 2 careers/jobs a week. If needed, Tejashree could reach out to the group or Jeeno to collect career related information. As more information is available to Poornima, maybe she will be able to make an informed decision
    what education/skills lead to A, B, C jobs you have short-listed

-          what she has in her mind and what her interest or likes are.

-          this way Poornima may also realize that there is a link between higher income/earning jobs and education/skills.


Sanjana mentors Renuka, a 18 year old girl who lives from an orphanage in JP Nagar. Renuka has been living at the orphanage for a year and half. She was transferred from another children’s home.

She is not an orphan. She does have a family. However there is little information about them. Nor have they tried to contact her. It seems she was abandoned or she run-away and was rescued by another shelter home. It’s not clear what happened. If there was abuse at home or pressure to get married or disapproval of a relationship.

Sanjana and Renuka have been meeting for 3 months now. They have met at least 6 times far.

She is pursuing a diploma course in secretarial practice and communication. Her interests include writing poems, reading, dancing and listening to music.

Initially she was a bit apprehensive about Sanjana as an earlier mentor discontinued after a few meetings. So she wanted to know how long Sanjana was going to be around and if she would be there. Sanjana offered some validation and re-assurance that she is going to be around for 6 months. Sanjana therefore made an effort to meet her often to build a rapport and address her apprehension about Sanjana's commitment.

Renuka is quite bright and motivated to do well in her studies. Most conversations were about general topics, her interests and what’s happening at her college and studies as her exams were coming up.

One of the things they agreed to work on together at their meetings was improving Renuka’s English. This was something Renuka requested help with. Sometimes they would go through articles in a newspaper to work on reading skills and sometimes they would work on grammar. She later mentioned that her English teacher was not good and so Sanjana also started helping out with some topics for her course to help her prepare for her exams.

However Renuka would rarely talk about her family or past.

Sometimes Renuka would share her poems with Sanjana. Sanjana noted that Renuka’s poems were quite impressive and had a lot of depth. Most of the poems talk about her feelings. Renuka says she writes poems when she feels either too happy or very sad. A lot of poems seem to mention or are about her mother. She seems to miss her mother a lot.

Renuka mentioned that she was keen on doing a CA course and Sanjana offered to help her meet with some friends of hers who were doing a similar course.

One day Renuka seemed to talk less.  She mentioned that the warden at the orphanage was quite rude to her and other kids at the orphanage. Apparently there was some argument or incident that day. Renuka seems protective about the younger kids in the shelter home. She also helps the other younger children with school work and studies.
She also seems to have some friends at college although they haven’t talked much about them yet. But she did mention that she acts a counsel for her friends.

One day Renuka mentioned that her family disowned her and she was not sure if her family would accept her. But she didn’t say anything further. She was very uncomfortable talking about it.

During one of the assessments it seemed like she did not believe she can find someone special in her life or a life partner. She was unhappy with her appearance and wanted to look better.

Sanjana is worried about Renuka’s relationship with her family and how she deals with her past. She hopes that Renuka would open up and wants to help Renuka and talk to her about it.

Feedback/Validation/Suggestions from the Group

  • There has been a lot of sharing already in short time. Sanjana’s visits and conversations were certainly helping Renuka open up. Her support for English is also something that has brought them closer. Things are looking good.

  • We understand that you are worried about Renuka’s ability to deal with her past. You are probably also worried if any attempt to talk about her family will push her away or lead to her closing up further.

  • The group suggested that perhaps we need to be patient and start with more validation about her difficulty in talking about her past. To let her know that Sanjana understands why Renuka would not want to talk about it. Maybe offer level 3 and 5 validation and let her know Sanjana understands that:-
    • Perhaps it makes her more sad or angry or upset when she tries to talk about the past and her family.
    • Perhaps it makes her miss her family more.
    • Perhaps the experience at home (run- away, abuse at home) was traumatic and painful.
    • Perhaps she feels abandoned or betrayed
    • Perhaps she feels confused
    • Perhaps there is some guilt about running away

  • Thereafter Sanjana could make an offer that – if Renuka ever feels she is ready to talk about it or has questions Sanjana would be there to listen as a friend. And if Renuka does not wish to talk about it, its okay, Sanjana would still continue to be there and visit her.

  • Sanjana could then take a step back and allow Renuka to decide if she wants to share and then accept Renuka’s choice. This may not be easy for most of us but its something we have to learn to accept. It’s quite possible that one day Renuka would come back to Sanjana and talk about it. Maybe just not right away. This maybe the first time someone has ever talked to Renuka in this manner.
  • Perhaps a similar approach to a conversation could  be attempted with topics she’s not very comfortable talking about:-

    • her views about not finding a life partner
    • her views about her appearance.

* Once a month, mentor meetings are organised by Dream A Dream. The session is a forum to discuss challenges and seek support and advice from fellow mentors, senior mentors, and Dream A Dream

** Names of mentees or young people have been changed to protect their identity and maintain anonymity.

1 comment:

  1. Comments from Dave & Fiona

    Poornima and Renuka are different in that one has family and the other has none. Poornima's issue is how to contribute money to her family; Renuka has more extensive problems including no-one to attach to.

    She's likely to do that coming and going thing we discussed so Sanjana may go from her to zero. But if Renuka does attach (which seems likely) it could be a massive help to her.

    TJ's task is hard form a different point of view: she may strongly feel Poornima should continue studies, but in this she has to keep an open mind an an ability to stay alongside Poornima no matter what she decides. we like the information approach: you could also try a 'pros and cons' list together with Poornima as to how to go forward.