This was one of the game changing statements of 2016 that I battled with whenever I wanted to rescue or help instead of mentor. The analogy LifeXchange uses to explain mentoring is that of a boxer and his coach during a fight. Personifying the mentor in this analogy, the coach is not able to hit one shot during the fight, he may scream and encourage, but never step into the ring. That’s it. Still, I often fall in the trap of helping too much and, in the process, less learning occurs. However, one of my recent helping stunts turned out well.
I arranged for one of our Lavender Hill pupils and his friend to work on a farm in the Vredendal district during the recent grape harvesting season. We dropped them at the farm on the 13th of December. With no working experience and having never left the Cape flats before, I thought a week on the farm will be a success story for them. After three days I heard that they were very happy and wanted to work until school started again in January.
Feeling very impressed with them, I relaxed and temporarily forgot about their situation over the festive season. That was until December 23rd when they called to say they wanted to be home for Christmas and I was reminded of my promise to fetch them when they wanted to go home. This was on the same day I arrived at Ceres for our family’s Christmas get together. Long story short, I spent about two hours on the phone begging and pleading everyone I know from Vredendal to Springbok for a lift. Thankfully they got home before Christmas eve.
On the 26th they surprisingly informed me that they wanted to go back to continue working and asked me if I can arrange transport. One phone call later and everything was arranged for the Bezuidenhout bus services to pick them up at Capricorn McDonalds the following morning at 7:00 am. At 7:15 the bus driver phoned me to say that they were not there and he left without them. Fifteen minutes later they phoned me to say sorry about being late.
Now remember, it was within the last 10 days that I heard the statement “I see you like to help people. I prefer to mentor people“. It influenced my reaction to their tardiness. I subsequently told them that I am done with organizing anymore transport, that I’d already apologized to the farmer and told him that they missed the bus and won’t be coming anymore. I’d assumed that they will never get there without me organizing it.
However, my assumption was like most assumptions, very wrong! They asked me for the contact details of the farmer and made their own arrangements, spending all they money they earned on transport to get back to Vredendal and continue working right up until they had to come back for school. Ironically enough, they stepped up when I stopped helping!
by Corné Krogscheepers