Organisation needs adults to guide eager youngsters

Date: 22 Nov 2006
Big Brothers Big Sisters needs more people to come on board to help mentor the youth. For that, the organisation yesterday took some of the children involved in the programme for a graffiti lesson on the corner of Jan Smuts Avenue and Empire Road, where a graffiti artist painted an advertisement to promote the project. The non-profit organisation, based in Melville, Joburg, deals with providing children in need with one-on-one mentoring programmes and inspirational role-models. Each child is provided with a "big brother" or "big sister", and the two meet for at least one hour a week for a minimum of a year. The "bigs" (as the organisation refers to mentors) offer guidance and support to the "littles". Through these relationships, the mentors build values such as respect for oneself and others, and boost the child's self-esteem. With 400 children and 400 mentors currently members of the organisation, Big Sisters Big Brothers wants to attract more mentors to help bring insight to the children. Keitumetse Manoto, a Grade 7 pupil from the Foundation School in Melville, has had a mentor since June this year, and the 13-year-old says she has benefited from the programme. Although she doesn't find it easy at times to speak to her mentor about certain issues, she says that with time she has learnt to open up. The two meet once a week. "We speak about my problems and what I want to be when I grow up, and issues like bullying and abuse," she says. Nadine Mason, of Big Brother Big Sister, says all mentors go through a programme before they can be matched with children. She says the organisation holds one-on-one interviews with volunteers, who are also required to undergo a three-day training course. A potential mentor is then matched with the type of child she or he prefers, and vice versa. Staff reporter The Star 22/11/06