“We live in a beautiful country with so many people who want to bring about positive change, yet how do we ensure that it lasts?”
This was the question that drove Cobus Oosthuizen in his research on sustainable transformation in the lives of young people in South Africa. The theory turned into praxis and the praxis into the birth of LifeXchange.
Founded and registered in 2008 as a Voluntary Association involved in researching and implementing effective and responsible mentoring processes, LifeXchange has changed its NPO status in 2013 to that of a Not-for-Profit Company (NPC) and is the tip of the spear when it comes to mentoring in Africa. Being completely evidance-based in its approach, LifeXchange knows how long, how frequent and how intense mentoring should be in order for it to cause sustainable impact. They also know who to train, how to support and how to ensure the roll-out for an effective and responsible mentoring process.
With experience in community development, education, agriculture, health, faith ministries and youth development sectors, LifeXchange is what you think when you think mentoring!
Motivate, encourage, advise, coach, listen, tutor, guide.
“A mentor empowers a person to see a possible future and believe it can be obtained.” – Shawn Hitchcock
There are many programmes out there with a ‘this-is-how-you-change’ approach that offer their own version of the truth. “Follow this long list of instructions”, they say, “and you will be allowed to join us.”
Mentoring flips this around.
We know that people operate on a belief level. Unless things shift on the inside, change on the outside will not be sustainable. Research has proven that short-term mentoring programmes often leave people worse off than when they started. But with effective, responsible and long-term mentoring, it becomes a different story entirely.
With us at LifeXchange, you have a chance to go on an intensive one-on-one journey with someone. You get to see where they are at, help them imagine where they could be and then go on a journey together to get there. Thus the heart of mentoring is a relationship between mentor and mentee, in which the mentor regularly invests his/her time, care, encouragement and guidance in developing the mentee’s character and competence. This relationship serves as the incubator for confronting negative ‘truths’ the mentee holds about the world and life. It then becomes a platform for planting positive truths about their identity and potential for a life in abundance.
Much research is being done into why and how quality mentoring works, but there is still a lot of mystery to it. All we know for now is that this committed (an hour a week), long-term (minimum 12 months), caring relationship brings real and lasting change in people’s lives. This doesn’t just hold true for the mentee, their direct family and future generations, but mentors also report amazing growth in their own personal journeys.
So wherever social intervention is necessary: be it with the homeless person on the street, the lazy youth with no role in the greater community or even the money-hungry CEO of a mega-corporation, the message we bring through our mentoring is the same: Join us and you will change!
If you want to be significant, leave a lasting legacy or just learn about love, sign up and mentor someone today!
We can’t fix people, change their situation or erase the things that happened to them.
Despite this, most interventions in Africa focus on fixing these problems. For example, if she needs a bicycle (the problem), we fundraise to buy it. And if they are unemployed (the problem) we strategize to create job opportunities.
The greatest downfall of this ‘deficit-based’ approach is the assumption that life is linear: A leads to B leads to C. We reason that taking care of A, will automatically solve C. However, life is far more complicated than that. Just receiving the bicycle does not keep my children from going hungry. In fact, it’s an attractive bargaining item when the need is to feed them!
That’s why LifeXchange thinks different. Our vision is sustainable transformation and to that aim we apply a ‘strength-based’ approach. As quantum thinkers, we see that it’s not just one thing (i.e. drugs) that leads to a specific challenge in a person’s life (i.e. drug addiction). There’s a magnitude of educational, familial and socio-economic factors interacting around a person that causes a problematic situation. So instead of trying to create the perfect environment, we strengthen the person internally by building resilience and a healthy self-concept that protects them against the temptation of drugs.
To achieve this, LifeXchange has developed an evidence-based one-on-one mentoring process that impacts people deeply and empowers them to live purposeful lives. It is a voluntary process which requires great dedication, intense training and selfless action, but it is one intervention that we can confidently say produces transformed lives in this generation and the ones to come.