The Gift of Community
1 Corinthians 12:25 -27
“25. So that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26. If the one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it. 27. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
Going through my inbox on my birthday last week, I came across a very special gift, received exactly 6 years ago on 6 February 2014.
On that day, our mentoring programme in its fledgling (and as yet, nameless) phase, was featured in our Chicago-based mentor’s blog.
By the time we “met” Kelly Fair online, she had five years’ experience in the urban youth mentoring space. Despite operating in different parts of the world – us in Cape Town and Kelly in Chicago, we realised our stories shared many similarities and a strong connection was established. Kelly coached us through those early days of research, design and piloting of our programme. Our skype calls and emails reached across a vast distance and served as encouragement and confirmation for us to keep going.
Kelly’s article six years ago confirmed that our dream of “giving back “ by working with young women from disadvantaged communities, was starting to take shape. We were on the move…we were working our dream…turning it into something tangible. Little did we then know…the places we would go.
Six years on and we cannot believe how IseeU has grown. We now have a name, born out of the feedback from the very first group of young ladies we mentored. http://iseeu.org.za/2017/02/05/looking-to-you/
The philosophy behind our name – that every person is uniquely created with value and purpose, informs what we do and how we do it.
Back then we did not know where our next cohort of mentees would come from. Today we have a presence in three schools on the Cape Flats with an annual intake capacity of 32 Grade 10 mentees. As the learners progress to grades 11 and 12, our programme seeks to prepare them for what comes after school. Having responsibly established ourselves in these three communities, we aim to inspire and equip our mentees to explore who they are, the world beyond their communities, and purposeful post-school opportunities.
Six years ago we had a three-month programme which we wrote and prepped week-by-week. Today, our mentoring programme spans three years, with a well-thought-through, meticulously designed curriculum which remains responsive to our mentees’ needs. At the beginning of each term our office is abuzz with activity as each group’s resource box is lovingly prepared and packed. These boxes are filled with all manner of activities, crafts and exercises to help equip our mentees for what awaits them beyond the classroom. Together with their mentors they have hours of fun while learning about themselves and how to navigate life after school.
As I reflected on IseeU’s journey, I said a prayer of gratitude for cheerleaders like Kelly, and many others who crossed our path these past six years. People eager to share their experience, encouraging us to just get started and then keep moving. I marvelled at the power of connectedness – how by reaching out and responding, a community was established.
Thank you, Kelly and others like you! You are the gift that keeps on giving.
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