“As a mentor, it is my duty to be a trusted advisor, coach, supporter, cheerleader, friend, motivator, and confidante. When meeting my mentee I understood why we were paired as we are exactly the same in a lot of ways. Despite our similarities, though, we are different in a lot of ways too. She has and managed to change my perceptions about gender, religion, race and culture. This has forced me to do a lot of introspection and get to know myself better.”
First Rand Mentor Testimonies
“I have always known it but never said it out loud to myself; I am empathetic, I feel a lot what people are feeling and not saying and I’ve accepted that this year. It has opened me up to a whole lot of different discussions. It has helped me on my journey here at work. I offered to help someone at work and I know I don’t have the time but I wanted to do it.”
“I didn’t realise how much my mentorship is worth to my mentee until she started sending me emails, thanking me for what I have done for her.”
“The best moment in this process was when my mentee Barbara told me she is going to become the President of South Africa!”
“It was nice when we broke the wall between us, it started when we talked more and the wall came down. That was my ‘aha’ moment, I was humbled when she started trusting me.”
“I was inspired by my mentee never mentioning her disability as a challenge. She is always positive and never ever complains.”
“The act of giving to one person has also inspired me to commence giving to others and I have become a mentor to a number of other young ladies at work.”
I was inspired by these words from my mentee about the mentorship process:
“I’m very grateful and appreciate what Khulisa’s programme has done to me; it was the best thing that ever happened to my life. The programme has given me a friend,
a mother, a person I can talk to whenever I want to.”
“The act of giving to one person has also inspired me to commence giving to others and I have become a mentor to a number of other young ladies at work.

Changing lives – the back-stories

Mrs Nkosi has lived all of her life in the rural village of Luphisi outside Nelspruit in Mpumalanga. She first became involved with Khulisa through a programme initiated by a businesswoman who had grown up in the area and wanted to give back to the community. Mrs Nkosi and three local youths were the first to receive training in micro farming.

They assumed responsibility for the roll-out of the project and, over the next three years, gave more than one hundred community members the knowledge and skills needed to develop and sustain their own gardens. Mrs Nkosi recently participated in the pilot phase of a Moringa farming project in the region, successfully growing the trees at her homestead and selling healing Moringa powder locally and to Khulisa. She used the profits to build a restaurant on the main road, in which she serves delicious homemade food, and a variety of baked goods and ice creams to tempt the local school children.

Busisiwe and I were paired at a lunch a year ago. It was difficult to tell who was more nervous, the mentees or the mentors. We played icebreaking games, were paired with our mentees and then had an opportunity to chat to them over lunch. As with any new relationship, there were lots of questions and answers as we tried to find out more about each other.

I immediately felt a need to support her, build her up and to protect her. We send whatsapp messages to each other, checking in and sharing news about what is happening in our lives. We also managed to meet up a couple times (arranged privately and through Khulisa). I’m looking forward to taking her to TLC Children’s home to play with the babies in the near future. I’m also hoping that I will hear more about her progress in the learning initiatives that this program is offering.

Martin was one of the first offenders at Leeukop Prison to volunteer for the Khulisa Programme almost two decades ago. He admits that losing his father at the age of sixteen turned him into an angry young man susceptible to getting involved with crime. While serving his final sentence, he reached out to Lesley Ann van Selm, founder of Khulisa, and so began their seven-year journey in mentorship.

Martin, now forty years old and living in his hometown of Soweto, is using the knowledge and skills he gained at Khulisa to pursue the goal of reinventing lives through his own organisation. The Taursrac Foundation is located in Kliptown, Soweto, an area plagued by high crime, unemployment and poor service delivery. Martin’s vision is to empower and uplift the community though the establishment of various micro-enterprises including vegetable gardens, recycling projects and the manufacture of shoes and ceramics. Another of the main goals of the Foundation is to support and motivate the youth of Soweto to avoid crime and develop skills and resilience.