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Mentor Tales Part 5

Mentor Tales Part 5

The first time my mentee met “Lord Tirion”, he picked up a stick and shooed him away. The little pup took this as an invitation to play. My mentee was so frightened he ran and hid behind a tree. Right then I realized that my mentee had only met one kind of dog – the kind of dog people keep to guard their house and attack intruders. I sternly told the dog to sit, called my mentee over and put a treat in his hand. “What if he bites me?” he asked. “What if he likes you?” I replied. “First let him sniff your hand,” I said.

A few months later, my mentee arranged a Sports Day for all the kids at his hostel. He specifically asked me to bring Lord Tirion. He walked him onto the field and did his welcome speech. Later he took him around so that all the kids could pet and play with him. They were also scared at first but soon everybody took turns walking him even making sure that he always had water.

Mentor Tales Part 4

“Mentor,” my mentee stuttered; he was not being his usual giddy self. “I’ve done something bad and I am afraid that if I tell anyone I am going to be in biiiig trouble.” I could see that he was genuinely scared. I encouraged him to trust me with his worst-case scenerio and assured him that I would not judge him. His whole body sunk and he confided in me. After considering things for a few days, he decided that it would be best to come clean and tell his mom. His mother swore at us over the phone for about 20 minutes, using words that I can’t spell or repeat. She was disappointed at first, but appreciated that her son had manned up.

Do you remember the first time you had to own up to something? That time you had to tell your parent or your boss that you had done something wrong? Wanting to crawl into a hole and never come out?

Mentor Tales Part 3

My mentee is shy. In a room of young people just like him his voice drowns. In fact he doesn’t contribute at all. He says he prefers to let the other kids lead – they know more than he does. During a game of chess, he comes out of his shell. His knight corners my queen just as I sacrificed my bishop to lure his king. It’s checkmate. This is the third time he’s beaten me since we’ve started to play a few weeks ago. We high five in a rush of emotion. He does a quick sprint around his chair and another little dance. Winning puts a sparkle in his eye. In each game he uses a different strategy to manipulate my army and gain my surrender. He gets it. There is more than one way to reach your goal.

Mentor Tales Part 2

“So, what’s your favourite thing to cook?” I ask my mentee. “Scrambled eggs!” he replies, “I can’t really cook anything else”. “So, what do you like to eat?” I ask. “Spaghetti, sausage, tomatoes, corn…” “That’s a lot!” I interrupt. A few days later, we visit the the Biscuit Mill and go through all the various food groups followed by a tour of the food section. To my mentee’s disbelief there are hundreds of different foods from places all around the world. Each stand has its own style of making food. Every flavour more delicious than the next. People are thrilled by the fact that he is interested in their cuisines and offer him tasters to fall in love with. Later that day we cook some vegetables from the market and he assures me that he is going to teach himself how to cook meals from his own culture.

Mentor Tales Part 1

In the next weeks we will post some mentor tales which Sivu Nobongoza, Transition Specialist and mentor at SAYes wrote down. The images are also made by him. Here is the first tale:


My mentee really wanted to read better. He is dyslexic and hates not being able to understand billboard adverts and street signs. Initially I tried to get him to read novels or short stories, which made things difficult for both of us. Then I introduced him to comic books and just like that his interest peaked. First, Atom Man and Captain Marvel, then Archie and Jughead, Asterix and Obelix and by the end of the year he was reading the Sunday Times and any piece of writing he could find with absolute fluency.

Friends of SAYes Germany visiting Cape Town

Three members of Friends of SAYes Germany (Gabi Dahm, Vanessa Dahm and Sabine Schmidt) visited Cape Town in March. They had planned to meet with SAYes staff and alumni, but due to the Corona virus this was not possible. But they were very excited that SAYes‘ Executive Director and co-founder, Michelle Potter, had the time to meet them and to talk about SAYes and especially the current challenges SAYes faces now that their staff are working from home and they are developing new ways of supporting their beneficiaries without face to face contact. New challenges bring new opportunities and Friends of SAYes Germany will continue to offer support during this difficult time.