The “Mentors” project is aimed at helping orphans and children deprived of parental care, so that they can discover their life potential and develop their independent life skills through communication with adult volunteer mentors. The mentor helps the child to believe in themselve and develop self-reliance, contributes to creating the conditions under which there is an opportunity to better know himself, to realize life goals and learn to take responsibility for their implementation.
The project is being implemented since 2014 by the Dara Foundation together with the Public Movement “The Child Must Live in the Family”, the “We help” Foundation, the Tomiris Foundation in the orphanages in Almaty, Astana, Karaganda and Pavlodar. The project is also supported by the partners – the Fund for the Development of Social Projects “Samruk Kazyna Trust” and the NAU “Baiterek”.
The main problem of children in orphanages is a lack of personal attention and poor preparation for independent life after the orphanage. Mentors are adults who become reliable friends for children from orphanages, share their experience and knowledge, and provide important psychological support.
The project “Mentors” works in three ways:
First is individual mentoring of 8-14 years old children.
The project attracts volunteers who want to help children in orphanages, but to do it effectively. Volunteers become mentors, communicate with children, make friends, help with an advice and participate in the preparation of the child for adulthood. The work is done systematically, for a long period of time and with each child individually. For such friendship to be formed, a certain methodology has been developed.
Mentoring is not conducted with children under 10 years of age because at this age they find it very difficult to understand the difference between a mentor, an adoptive parent or a sponsor. Children older than 8-10 years already have the necessary level of awareness, when it can be explained that people have different roles in relationships, there are parents and there are mentors.
Before the mentor begins individual communication with the child, they necessarily pass several stages of selection: psychological testing, interview with the psychologist, training at the School of Mentors.
The School of Mentors examines in detail the characteristics of communication with children of this age and talks about how to build effective communication with a child from an orphanage.
Next for the introduction of mentors and children, large meetings are organized in an informal environment, where mentors and children have the opportunity to get acquainted and get to know each other better. After all, for friendship to arise, you need some kind of sympathy, common interests. Such large meetings are held several times, as a result of which couples “mentor-child” appear. After a series of large and small meetings in which the child already participates with his mentor, individual work begins.
Meetings of mentors and children first take place inside the orphanage, and after collecting the necessary documents with the guardianship authorities and the children’s home, a “guest contract” is signed, and the meetings can take place outside the orphanage. This is a very important part, since it is outside the children’s home that mentors have the opportunity to help the child to see the real life and to think about the necessary skills. Mentors not only visit museums, exhibitions, some educational institutions with children, but also elementary learn to make purchases in the store, cook useful dishes, get to know professions and learn new interests.
Mentoring is not just friendship, it’s a responsible job, where a sole desire is not enough. Children who are in the teenage period ask difficult questions, they seek help and advice not only with the choice of profession, but also on their personal issues: relationships with peers, studies, relatives, the future – much of what worries them every day. To make this work and for the mentors did not lose enthusiasm, the project builds an escort system, attracts experienced psychologists and other specialists. Once a month, mentors have the opportunity to take part in the Mentor’s Club, where they share their experience and receive an expert advice.
The second direction is coaching, which works with children older than 14 years.
Coach – is a specialist who helps to solve personal problems and acquire skills to achieve goals. The coach motivates, teaches to effectively use time and build communication with other people. The main tasks that children solve with the help of coaches are choosing their profession, increasing their academic performance, and establishing relationships with their peers and teachers. Adolescents at this age often suffer from a lack of motivation, from a certain laziness, the reasons of which can hide in deep psychological experiences. Therefore, in addition to coaches, psychologists work in the project. With some children, psychologists work individually, with the rest of children they work in the format of group art therapy.
The third important direction is corporate mentoring.
Companies can also be mentors. In contrast to the widespread festive actions and one-time events that do not help the children in their life path, but only strengthen the dependent attitude, the project offers helping the children with education, profession, personal skills. Companies have the opportunity to help not only financially, but also take patronage over a group of children or one child: arrange for internships, give a scholarship, the possibility of additional earnings. It’s not exactly about getting a job, but more about socializing in a company and gaining useful skills for a future career.