Sridhar mentors Rahul, a 17 year old who lives in a slum in Siddhapura, Jayanagar. He has been mentoring Rahul for 6 months now.
Rahul’s father works as daily wage worker, doing laundry work. He has three elder brothers and one sister. His elder brothers are also daily wage workers. Rahul finished his PUC recently. He is the only person in his family pursuing education after high school.
When Sridhar met him, he realized that Rahul was a very shy person who spoke very little. He also seemed to have very few friends. Rahul had plans for finding a part-time job to help him continue his education.
Rahul liked to walk long distances. He would normally walk from Jayanagar to Koramangala to visit a youth center run by Dream A Dream. He liked to read Tamil and Kannada books. He also liked watching movies and listening to Tamil and Kannada music.
Rahul did some part-time work on and off in small retail shop. He would also help his father with his laundry work.
The initial conversations led to discussions about his academics. He revealed that he was nervous about his exams. Sridhar had many conversations around Rahul’s apprehensions regarding his academics. English was a subject that he found very difficult. He wanted to become a police officer. Rahul had many questions on pursuing a college degree.
Gradually Sridhar learnt that Rahul was very interested in computers and mobile phones was attending computer course at a youth center run by Dream A Dream. So they would often discuss new applications, uses of software, internet websites and features of phones or computers.
Rahul finished his PUC exams and thereafter had many questions about pursuing a college degree. Sridhar and Rahul had discussions around different educational options post PUC and career options and vocational training. Rahul was initially inclined towards vocational or IT courses. Eventually, Rahul decided to do his Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce.
He aspires to work in a large MNC company and take care of his parents. He also wishes to someday buy some land a build a house. Rahul also aspires to be become a police officer.
Since Rahul expressed he was keen to learn more applications of the internet, they explored booking of railway tickets and KSRTC bus tickets online, opening an online account, how to learn about timings, route or fares…etc.
Sridhar and Rahul discussed how to go about opening a savings bank account, the difference between a savings account and a salary account and also demonstrated internet banking. Sridhar also talked about debit and credit cards and using the ATM. Rahul planned to help his father set up an online banking account.
They also worked together on creating a CV and using an online job website. They discussed part-time job opportunities and how to look for these opportunities.
Sridhar mentioned that he plans to close his mentoring term this month and needed some suggestions on going about this. He was also concerned about Rahul’s ability to make friends and whether this would become a problem. Although Rahul started going to college he didn’t seem to have new friends. He always seemed lonely. Sridhar did have some conversation in the past about making friends and how that helps one in life.
Feedback/Validation/Suggestions from the Group
- The group felt that Sridhar and Rahul had come a long way since they started. Despite Rahul’s trouble with making conversation and his shy nature, Sridhar kept meeting him, trying different things and conversations to keep him interested and engaged. Example, identifying Rahul’s interest for internet and computers…etc.
- This would have made Rahul comfortable enough to open up, eventually leading to him initiating conversations and seeking support on different issues.
- With regard to closure, perhaps it’s good to discuss this with Rahul and spread this conversation across 2-3 meetings to allow him time to understand.
a) It’s important that Rahul understands what closure means. Help Rahul re-call the program duration and initial commitment made, how long it’s been and recall some of the things they managed to accomplish in that time. That they will have another 2-3 meetings before the term ends. Thereafter, he may not be available to meet and talk as often as before as he has to give his time for work and personal commitments. But he will be reachable on the phone if Rahul really needs to talk about something or alternatively, he can reach out to Dream A Dream.
b) This conversation will need a lot of validation keeping in mind possible anxiety and confusion about your relationship. What happens now? Why are you leaving? Did I do something wrong?
c) Sridhar could offer re-visit Rahul’s goals and aspirations for the next few months or year and have a discussion around this and let him know that he can achieve them.
- The group shared that, it’s understandable Sridhar would be concerned about Rahul’s inability to make friends and how this would affect him in college in the future. We may not be able to change Rahul’s inherent nature and should ideally be accepting of the way Rahul is. But Sridhar could try and understand more about Rahul’s preference to be with himself. Maybe validate and clarify.
o Maybe he is worried/afraid that others would not accept him or look at him differently – his clothes, appearance, his background vs other young people in college.
o Maybe he has trouble trusting new people.
o Maybe he is uncomfortable around girls.
o Maybe he is worried about spending money or family restrictions….etc
- Sridhar could use Level 3, 4 and 5 validation. Sridhar could share how friendships have helped him in life (work or college or personal life) and how he himself overcame similar challenges when he was young. That’s the best that we could do.
Shilpa mentors Mamatha, 17 year old girl, who lives in a slum in Roopena Agrahara. Shilpa has been mentoring Mamatha for 6 months now. Mamatha lives with her brother, mother and grandparents. Mother works as a daily wage construction worker and her elder brother also works to support the family. Her father had died when she was young. Family is supportive education. Since mother and brother work, she does most of the cooking and household work before and after school.
When Shilpa started mentoring Mamatha, she was in high school in 10th std. During initial conversations, she was anxious and spoke little. Gradually she started opening up. Shilpa offered a lot of validation when Mamatha talked about her father and how she missed him. Shilpa noticed that Mamatha always turned up for meetings and was eager to talk to her.
Mamatha had some trouble with Math in high school. Although Shilpa offered to help, she didn’t seek help. They continued to have meetings and casual conversations. After high school, Mamatha hoped to continue her education and do her PUC in Arts. Mamatha also liked to talk about Shilpa’s life and her daughter.
During her exams, it seemed like managing household work and cooking was causing a lot of stress for Mamatha. It was taking a lot of time away from her preparations and study. Mamatha mentioned she was worried about Math, English and Hindi. Shilpa tied to offer validation and shared her even trouble with Math when she was a kid. Shilpa also spent some time discussing with Mamatha some tips on how to go about with her exams.
At most of their meetings, Shilpa encouraged and appreciated her for working hard and being positive despite her challenges.
When they had a discussion on computer skills, Mamatha revealed that she was also going to free computer classes near her house and shared that she found it helpful.
When asked what her future plans were, Mamatha could not really articulate, so Shilpa spend a few meetings discussing career and education options after high school. Mamatha was not very sure what she wanted to do. She just seemed like she wanted a desk job, but did not have any idea as to how to go about it. Shilpa suggested she go to DreamConnect Center for career counseling.
Mamatha’s 10th exams results came out and she learnt that she did not clear 2 subjects. Shilpa tried to console her and encourage her. She decided to re-appear for her supplementary exams. Mamatha eventually managed to clear her 2 subjects.
Shilpa accompanied Mamatha to DreamConnect Center for career counseling. They discussed various career and education options after high school and PUC. She decided to pursue a PUC in Arts at a Govt. College. Although it was 2 months late, she managed to join a college with the support of her elder brother.
Mamatha seems to be doing fine with the transition to PU College. But she says she does not have many friends at college. Her high school friends now started to drift apart as they go to different colleges. A few times Mamatha asked if Shilpa could take her out somewhere or a movie. Shilpa agreed to plan for an outing.
These days Shilpa feels unsure about approaching further conversations and what to talk about now. Mamatha seems to be doing fine and there does not seem to be any apparent problem that she expresses. So wonders if she is making any difference. She also thinks maybe it’s time for a closure since it’s been 6 months.
Feedback/Validation/Suggestions from the Group
- The group suggested Shilpa try a similar plan discussed for Sridhar’s mentee earlier. Shilpa could try and understand more about Mamatha’s trouble making friends. Shilpa could use Level 3, 4 and 5 validation. How friendships have helped Shilpa in her life (work or college or personal life) and how she herself overcame similar challenges when she was young.
- About how to engage Mamatha better and approaching further conversations, Shilpa could attempt a few activities listed on the blog which involve doing things or going out. This seems to be something Mamatha already seeks. It’s understandable that Shilpa feels casual conversation was getting monotonous or less engaging. Many mentors do go through a similar phase after a period of mentoring.