Africa is vast, and we may often find our young people dispersed and far away from our youth clubs. This may be because the rainy season makes travel difficult, girls have responsibilities at home, and they get sent to far-away cities or villages for National Service, boarding school or work assignments, or lockdowns.
When a good mentoring relationship has been developed in a physical youth club, there is no need for it to end just because of distance, as long as we have an internet or phone connection (and consent from the girl and her parents if she is a minor). Building on your organisation’s existing mentoring and safeguarding guidelines, here are some tips for online mentoring sessions, using something like Zoom or Whatsapp.
Getting into the zone in online mentoring
Our attention spans have suffered as we engage more with technology. Your mentee’s attention span might affect her capacity to engage during the whole length of the mentoring session. Here are some tips and ideas you can use if you face this problem:
- When starting a meeting, invite your mentee to take a minute, take a deep breath, and let go of the day’s business, irritations, or stresses.
- Agree to not use your phones during the meeting (other than for this conversation).
- Ask her to grab a pencil and paper.
- Check whether she is following and keeping up with you by asking quick questions that test whether she has lost her train of thought.
- If you notice background noise don’t hesitate to ask her to move to a different room.
- Take a short break and grab a drink if needed.
- Use a reward system! For example, younger mentees might value getting ‘stars’, ‘points’ or stickers.
If mentoring is a core part of your work, it makes sense that you would support mentors and mentees with data costs if this is preventing them from continuing to access mentoring.