This post is written by Claire Seremba.
The girl child, perhaps more than the boy child, needs guidance in this new world. She is projected in traditional society as unworthy, as a being whose only value is to reproduce and help in the kitchen and garden. But this is the capitalist world where one’s survival and success is dependent on how quickly one recognises opportunities and makes use of them to succeed. The girl is not trained to identify her talent, use it within her surroundings and to think beyond what needs to be done domestically. But that is quickly becoming a thing of the past too…
Mentoring in Uganda is becoming a common house name; a new leaf has been turned and with it a realization of the dire need to mentor young adults and initiate them into their new world. The fears of most young girls, “what is it that I want/can/should become and how is of benefit to me or my family. I am floating in a sea of what if, how, what, and why?” Who should we ask for advice? There are many questions and no answers. Such is the situation of most young people today. They are eager to become relevant citizens but lack the guidance to enable them seek the right path. What is mentoring and what is the relevance—one would ask?
“Mentoring is to support and encourage people to manage their own learning in order that they may maximize their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance and become the person they want to be.” Eric Parsloe, The Oxford School of Coaching & Mentoring
At the 2nd Annual National Women’s week held at Hotel Africana organized by UWONET and other partners; there was a “Girls’ Arise” session which was to foster & mentor young girls. The session was graced by successful entrepreneurs such as Grace Nanyonga “the chicken girl” [Read Nanyonga’s story here] who rose above adversity and now has been recognised-internationally and nationally-for her entrepreneurship capabilities. There was Manuela Mulondo, whose great love for children compelled her to start a daycare center. Mulondo advocates for provision of daycare services at workplaces to facilitate and create a friendly working environment for working mothers. In the session, the girls were tasked to come up with actions to take back to their communities and cause change; a number of inspirational plans were fronted and the girls left inspired and motivated.
In a similar way on 15th November 2014, CEDA International organised the 7th Annual Mentoring Walk under the theme “Turning Point”. This is an initiative to empower women and young girls with leadership and entrepreneurship skills. About 900 career & community women and schoolgirls from Northern, Central and Western Uganda walked beside each other on Yusuf Lule Road through Mulago roundabout to Kitante Primary School, while they mentored each other. “This walk was to give girls the opportunity to realize their dreams, while promoting lasting mentoring relationships between emerging and established women leaders,” says Rehmah Kasule, the brain behind the mentoring walk.
There is not one definite way to mentor a child, some people advise to start at the tender ages. Straighten the stick while it’s still wet and malleable because when it is dry, it breaks, a proverb goes. Other people don’t worry too much about the breaking and prefer to talk to grown adults. In my opinion the earlier the better. I believe children need to be guided and molded straight from their formidable years to enable them to achieve their future aspirations.