In mid-2017 Susana Kennedy and Debbie Johnstone attended a social gathering sponsored by Silibona, to give donors the opportunity to meet with the young women whose education they were sponsoring. Both Susana and Debbie were struck by the intelligence and talent possessed by the girls, but in chatting to them about their experiences in the recent "feesmustfall and #allmenaretrash movements, it became acutely apparent that while the trust secured the finances for their education, the girls were facing some very real human challenges, and were going to need experiential support to help them deal with these challenges successfully, open their minds, and help them make their dreams a reality.
That night the idea of the Silibona mentorship program was founded, and work began to pair each student with an experienced female role model, who would be able to share wisdom and provide inspiration. The mentors and mentees meet for one hour each month, and is as best practice in mentoring, the girls are encouraged to guide the mentorship relationship and prepare for their meetings with questions that ask of their mentor to share how they tackled similar challenges or overcame similar obstacles. This small act of kindness and generosity from the mentor provides a significantly valuable platform that gives the mentees the assurance that they are not alone, gives them insight into how their challenges have been overcome before, and gives them the confidence to persevere.
The mentorship programme continues successfully into 2017, currently supported by seven female mentors, headed by Susana who has now also become an EXCO member of Silibona. As the trust grows we will need more mentors, so if you're looking to give back in a way that requires little time but makes a massive impact on someone's life, please email Susana on firstname.lastname@example.org. We are specifically looking for strong female role models who have succeeded against the odds of their own circumstances, as this provides as excellent example for the girls.