By Caroline Boyani

The role of mentorship is to change perspectives, which in turn should impact the mentee positively. Grassroots soldiers are vital in shaping any society. Women, more so, hold the community on their heads and shoulders.

Elizabeth Wamboi has been mentoring adolescents and young women over a decade. She draws her inspiration from the environment she grew up in. “I grew up in Mathare slums where most girls drop out of school due to crimes, teenage pregnancies, and lack of support from society and I swore to make a difference, ” Wamboi explained.

She started mentoring adolescents in the year 2012 through a youth-based group. “Our youth group, in partnership with various non-governmental organizations, decided to mentor adolescents in Mukuru slums due to the high cases of HIV infections and teenage pregnancies.”

While the adolescents were taught about their sexuality and HIV/AIDS in schools and churches, it was easier for them to talk to mentors without fear. Wamboi and the youth organization (U- Tena) she was part of decided to bank on that. Through U-Tena, they coached girls who were in class six, seven and eight in 2012. The pupils were coached in Mathematics, English and life skills. Later on, they discovered the importance of bringing the boy-child on board.

” It’s more productive to teach both girls and boys about their sexuality and support them in fulfilling their goals,” Wamboi said. Additionally, they supported adolescents and youth interested in art through dances, painting and beading. “While you’re impacting this child with soft skills, you also need to give them a skill that can grow their talent and generate money to foster independence.”

She expressed her joy in seeing girls she mentored taking important positions in life and making a difference in their various communities. “When my mentees grow to be responsible citizens or even complete secondary education, it fills my heart with joy.”

However, the most important thing she considers an achievement is the reduction in the gap of those girls who complete their primary education and those who complete their high school education. Additionally, she highlights the reduction in cases of HIV/AIDS, which she attributes to the mentorship.

While mentoring is a satisfying cause, it has its challenges. At times, the parents demand for financial help before they can allow their children to be mentored and at other times, the mentees do not understand the relevance of mentorship. “It’s demoralizing to put in effort into mentorship and getting a negative outcome.”

Despite this, Wamboi is dedicated to the process. She understands that mentorship takes perseverance and dedication, especially when the mentees-students- fail to show up sometimes for training, as well as handling   unsupportive parents.

Communities should embrace unity and collaboration in improving the livelihood of community members.

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