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Feb 21, 2019

The Perks of (Not) Being a WallFlower

Meet Khotso, a future doctor/engineer
Meet Khotso, a future doctor/engineer

Khotso is a young woman with big dreams. “I want to be a brain surgeon or a biomedical engineer,” she says, brimming with quiet pride. It wasn’t always this way. Before Khotso met her Video Mentor, Rachel who she has been working with since 2016, the young teen had her share of problems. “I needed help with a lot of things personally. I was fighting with people. I needed someone to talk to,” she recalls.

Khotso, now 18, found that listening ear in Rachel. “We came up with solutions together,” says Khotso. “No one had done that with me before.”

Khotso lives in a group home near Soweto, so she sorely needed an adult’s personal attention and guidance, in both social situations and in school. “Both of us really like school, and Rachel helps me with homework. I’ve always had good grades, but after I talk with her, my grades always go up,” she says. Even more, Khotso appreciates having a confidante, someone with whom she can share her fears and dreams. “I can tell Rachel everything,” she enthuses. “It can be hard talking to someone in person, but it’s easier to express yourself in VCs, when you’re looking at someone on a screen.”

Not that Khotso shies away from expressing herself. “Having a Video Mentor has helped my confidence,” she says. “As I think about which university to go to next year, and what to do, I know she is there to guide me.”

Thank you also to our wide network of donors who support video mentoring scholarships that make each and every mentorship possible throughout each teens' critical teen years.  No one can walk a teen's turbulent journey alone and just one caring adult half a world away can mean the difference between dropping out, or digging deep and working toward long-term success.

Nov 20, 2018

And We're Live!

When most people think of Cape Town, they often note its many natural wonders: Table Mountain, Garden Route, beaches, whales, and even adorable penguins. Well, we've found another set of wonders just 30km southeast of the city's center - Khayelitsha's teens! Infinite Family's newest LaunchPad has landed in partnership with Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy to provide a one of a kind skills development environment for the teens in Khayelitsha township. Launching this partnership was very special because it included Infinite Family team members from the US - Amy Stokes and Phi Nguyen, and SA - Zoleka Maphalala and Mpho Modisakeng. But having US Director, Kevin Travis, and one of our early Video Mentors, Anna Morris, also attend made it feel like a real Family affair.

One of the newest members to the Family, Pick n Pay, was the lynchpin in proposing and driving the partnership with Velokhaya. Suzanne Ackerman-Berman, Director of Transformation for Pick n Pay, reaffirmed the unique and powerful opportunity that the LaunchPad would give to the teens in Khayelitsha, “We’ve seen so many milestones being reached at Velokhaya with young cyclists coming through the programme to excel in cycling as a sport. But the reality is that not all students will become professional cyclists. We’re very excited this new mentorship opportunity will not only equip the children to graduate from high school, but it will also allow them to qualify for advanced studies and have access to further opportunities in life.”

LaunchPads are only made possible with the support of our partners, both corporate and nonprofit, and this one was no different. Infinite Family thanks Pick n Pay, BT, European School Munich, and Velokhaya for all believing in Infinite Family and in all South African teens and their drive to build a better future for themselves.

Aug 24, 2018

From Repeating to Representing

An always smiling Banolo
An always smiling Banolo

 

Banolo is a soft-spoken 21-year-old who has been an Infinite Family Net Buddy for 7 years. He is the sole surviving member of his family, so he lives in a group home on the outskirts of Johannesburg. The thought of graduating high school and going to university never crossed his mind. But that changed when he met Jennifer, his Video Mentor, and his ideas about what might be possible for him changed.

Jennifer and Banolo spent most their time together talking about school especially when Banolo found out he needed to repeat a grade. “I felt like this was the end of everything. I felt like I had to stop everything,” he says. Jennifer thought differently. “She motivated me, and told me why I needed to stay in school rather than drop out.” Banolo took his Video Mentor’s words to heart, so much so that at the end of the grade he repeated, a challenging one for him, he earned an award in history. “I have Jennifer to thank,” he says. “She told me not to give up.”
 
Banolo also went on to be elected to the school’s Learners Representative Council. “When one of the kids doesn’t like something, I talk on their behalf,” he explains. He also got a part-time job at a logistics company, further honing his leadership skills. Now, Jennifer is helping him research universities that will enable him to pursue a career in logistics. “Through Infinite Family, I met people who care about me and my life. They allowed me to have hope.”

Banolo would have given up and dropped out of school – instead of becoming a student leader - without the weekly encouragement of his international Video Mentor. Your generous support made this possible! Thank you for making it a priority to help South African teens overcome life’s obstacles and build a better life for themselves. Infinite Family Net Buddies don’t just dream of a better future; they achieve one because of you.

 
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