On Wednesday 05 July 2017 the second Thatha Ithuba Camp took the Hout Bay Rotaractors, and their mentees, on a retreat-like camp at the beautiful Bhodi Ikhaya Retreat near Stanford. We settled in comfortably into the homely accommodation, heaters and warm blankets to combat the winter chill. For a second there, we thought we were on a getaway.
This camps follows the De Hoop Camp in December where Rotaractors’ leadership skills were harnessed. Now this year, these skills were put to the test. In April 2017 we launched the Mentorship Programme in association with the senior students at the Silikamva High School Interact Club. The programme was implemented in line with Hout Bay Rotaract’s vision and mission.
The purpose of the programme is to strengthen the ties between the youth groups within the disadvantaged communities in Hout Bay, Imizamo Yethu as well as Hangberg. Having gone through high school and varsity without guidance or mentorship, we realised the importance of the service we were bringing to our communities. We have offered ourselves as pillars of information, in hope of creating well informed students.
From the time we arrived, we all knew that we had to find a balance between work and play. Fortunately Gina and Martin of Thatha Ithuba came prepared. The activities were planned in such a way that we were able to enjoy the beautiful scenery, but still manage to work on perfecting the mentorship programme.
Dr Phumla Sinxadi –Senior Lecturer at the University of Cape Town’s Health Sciences faculty, joined us to help facilitate the initiative. It was only on the following day where she would share her experience and expertise on the topic of mentoring. She shared what it was like to be a mentored, also what it took to mentor someone. She was open about the challenges she faced and the steps she took to overcome them.
The thought-provoking tasks and exercises she had mapped out for us revealed the investment she was making into our professional futures. Each activity compelled the mentors to find their strengths and weaknesses when it came to mentoring. Her informative session allowed us to set realistic aims for the mentoring programme.
To make the programme more effective, it was decided that the mentees would attend the camp for the last two days. On arrival, they couldn’t conceal their excitement as they marvelled at the beauty of Bhodi Ikhaya, just as we had earlier that week. They were given enough time to settle in just before our vegetarian dinner prepared by Chef Frank. At the dinner table, the students performed their rendition of The Soil’s Family in true South African style, an experience which delighted everyone in the room.
Saturday 8th July was the day Tyrol Venturini of Brainwaves changed the lives of many, for the better. The dynamic Joburger walked into the room and his presences commanded your attention. His brilliant Discover Your Career workshop took up most of the day, but it was all worth it.
Each student was given a pack which contained a diary, pencil, and the Discover Your Career booklets. The main objective of the workshop was to help each student choose the most suitable career path based on interests, personality, thinking style, strengths, and passion as well as chosen subjects.
The mentors were fortunate enough to part take in the first phase of the workshop which revealed personality type, and also filtered career options one would likely thrive in based on that. There were mixed feelings in the room because, for some, the careers matched to their personality types were not what they had envisioned for themselves. Tyrol quickly clarified any misunderstanding by explaining that it was not mandatory to follow the results of the test, and that it was purely designed to help them navigate. My peers and I thoroughly enjoyed the session, mainly because it proved that we were on the right track.
The Rotaractors were then given the opportunity to work on improving their club, as well as the mentorship programme. Under the guidance of Hans Kuhn, Gina and Martin Hilzinger, we were able to prioritize on projects and events to be carried out. On an interpersonal and personal level, all of us realised that we had to work on communication.
Gina and Martin, threw in a few perks for the mentoring programme such as meal vouchers for meetings. Apart from that, they opened themselves to assist in all club interests, especially those pertaining to personal growth and education.
Christina Kuhn and Fazeelah Ibrahim dedicated their time to listen to some of the grievances that students had with regards to the mentorship programme & advised us on amicable ways to resolve them. The common issue amongst students and their mentors was the lack of communication. Fortunately, our senior leaders facilitated us in order to resolve the issue. There were certain pairings that were reshuffled to ensure the success of the programme. At the end of the day, each individual vowed to play their part in making their mentoring relationship work.
The week long getaway had come to an end. Because a majority of us are meat-loving South Africans, we initially dreaded the idea of adjusting to a vegetarian diet for a few days, but some were starting to enjoy the change. We weren’t rushing to get home because we also learnt that a change of scenery can make all the difference. Perhaps we did not realise it at first, but being outside of Imizamo Yethu allowed to focus on what was truly important, our futures.
Above all else, we became Thatha Ithuba. Not because they organized a camp and covered the expenses, but because of their investment and interest in our lives. Thatha Ithuba is an organization that is dedicated to bettering our lives and is willing to give us a chance. That is why we are Thatha Ithuba. To be selected by a great initiative such as this, is a privilege and an honour. And the only way we can express our gratitude is ensuring success, by in turn helping out other young hopefuls realise their true potential .I don’t think there could have been a better conclusion to our camp. Perhaps, seeing at least one baboon would have been the cherry on top.
Text by Naydia Nangamso Booi