How mentoring programs supports youth for a better life

26Mar 2020
The Guardian Reporter
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
How mentoring programs supports youth for a better life

Over the years, mentorship has played an important role in providing positive role models and building technical and social skills for youth by availing opportunities for them to achieve better life outcomes.

Zakia Mrisho who is one of the beneficiaries of Vodacom Foundation’s mentorship program and has since founded Smart Heroes Foundation.

Vodacom believes and works towards an inclusive society where more people can engage and reap benefits of economic and social well-being. This is why the company has invested in mentorship programs as part of its corporate philosophy to empower and enable youth achieve their full potential.

As a result of the mentorship provided, students who have had higher pass rates at graduation from school are less likely to drop out because they are more confident and have big aspirations in life. Through Vodacom Foundation - that leverages Vodacom Tanzania’s enormous technological capability to improve people’s lives, it has worked in partnership with key organizations in the country in addressing one of the most pressing societal challenges, providing youth with mentorship so that they can achieve their goals.

In 2017, the Vodacom Foundation collaborated with Bridge for Change to initiate a partnership focused on mentorship and coaching programs targeting students at Kibasila and Kilangalala Secondary Schools.

Bridge for Change is a Dar es Salaam based not for profit organization that works to inspire and empower youth to realize their potential by taking the initiative, be innovative and become change-makers in their communities.

The program helps students to plan their future by providing career awareness and connecting them with mentors who are Vodacom employees.

 One such beneficiary is Zakia Mrisho (20), who took part in the program and now sees her dream of becoming a change-maker turning to reality. After attending the mentorship program, Mrisho led a team of other girls in a campaign that encourages students in Kisarawe district of Coast region, to study hard.

 Mrisho who is the founder of Smart Heroes Foundation, which provides mentorship and coaching to girls who drop out of school plans to create a website that will reach more girls in rural areas of the country and sensitize them on the subject.

 “I just wanted to share what I had learnt with others. Youth needs to know why they are in school, the benefits of studying hard and motivations for doing so. I have my reasons and I want to inspire others too,” she said confidently at a recent interview.

The ambitious girl has since found sponsors supporting her to complete her Diploma in Information Technology at the NLAB Innovation College in Dar es Salaam.

Another beneficiary of the program is Albert Chinguile (21) who joined from Kilangalala Secondary School and has an amazing story relating to the power of mentorship and its lasting impact, to share.

 After the program, Chinguile said he found himself changing his focus from science to art studies which boosted his self-confidence and pushed him to set higher goals. He is currently a second-year student at the University of Dar es Salaam, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Human Psychology thanks to the guidance gained through mentorship and coaching.

 “The mentorship program exposed me to different people and institutions including Bridge for Change where I am currently working as a Media Officer,” Chingulile said while noting that he also provides mentorship to peers who want to further their education by joining universities and colleges.

One of the mentors from Vodacom is Najenjwa Mbagga who the project was a good opportunity for her to interact with students from public schools that cater for the majority hence help them build confidence.

“The interaction was helpful to me as it improved my understanding of youth, their ambitions and how they make decisions. Few seem to take life seriously while others are not so sure of what they want in life,” Mbagga said.

“I expected many of them to embrace the mentorship opportunity. However, most did not appreciate the benefits that come with the program. Those who embraced the program have started to take action towards achieving their dreams,” Mbagga says.

She said the need for mentorship programs starts from class one and therefore it needs to be included in the curriculum as part of the education system.  “It can make a very big difference in the growth of our children and youth. Our education might take a bigger leap forward than anybody expects,” Mbagga added.

Mbagga’s arguments were backed by another mentor from Vodacom, Happiness Shuma who said mentorship is important to inculcate knowledge and skills in the mentees. “Participating in this program was a great opportunity because I learnt from the community especially by engaging with youth. It provided me room for information and knowledge sharing through meetings,” she noted.

Bridge for Change CEO, Ochek Msuya said the partnership with Vodacom has assisted his organization reach more than 18,000 young people with life skills training while 600 received coaching over the past three years.

 “This initiative was very supportive because in most cases youths are vulnerable to making wrong decisions which makes having mentors an important aspect for them to break down barriers and create opportunities for success,” Msuya said.

She said Vodacom Foundation has provided all the financial resources needed by the program while the company’s staff participated in coaching and mentoring the youth. Bridge for Change played the role of coordinating, training and mobilizing youth.

 “Through insights, we have learnt the best practice for a successful partnership with schools that bring about practical change,” Msuya noted adding that through another successful project titled ‘Together with Vodacom Tanzania Foundation’ three computer labs were established in three different schools, all of which are running effectively.

 “We have cemented strong relations with schools like Kimara Temboni of Dar es Salaam, and found an important niche in providing access to ICT for students through enhancement of capacities for teachers. This enables them to coherently guide students in ICT lessons,” Msuva added.

From an individual perspective, the Bridge for Change CEO noted that by trying to unleash the potential of other youths over time.