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Mentoring - and More - During Covid-19

by Infinite Family
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Mentoring - and More - During Covid-19
Mentoring - and More - During Covid-19
Mentoring - and More - During Covid-19
Mentoring - and More - During Covid-19
Mentoring - and More - During Covid-19
Mentoring - and More - During Covid-19
Mentoring - and More - During Covid-19
Mentoring - and More - During Covid-19
Mentoring - and More - During Covid-19
Mentoring - and More - During Covid-19
Mentoring - and More - During Covid-19
Mentoring - and More - During Covid-19
Mentoring - and More - During Covid-19
Mentoring - and More - During Covid-19
Mentoring - and More - During Covid-19

As we are all too well aware, 2020 is not following the normal script. Your support in March, made it possible for us to adapt our systems of support to extend Information, Inspiration and Activities to our individual Net Buddies’ homes where they were in strict lockdown for many months. In recognition of our efforts, GlobalGiving honored us by including Infinite Family in their 2020 Project of the Month Club.

The economic devastation of the coronavirus pandemic is profoundly different than anything our communities have faced before and continues to require “all hands on deck” creating new systems to support them. In May it became clear that mental, physical and emotional support would not be enough: Our Net Buddies and their families were literally starving. We needed to take on another new role and get involved in food distribution. We are so proud that our incredible donors and local partners took just 12 days to achieve life-saving results: YOU made it possible to deliver one-month food parcels that provided more than 2,000 meals! You can read 50+ messages of thanks from our Net Buddies and their families at the link below. Here’s just one:

I felt really touched when I heard that we were going to receive the food parcels. I felt as if a very heavy burden has been lifted off our shoulders because we’re family of 8 and only 2 of us have income. But my hours were cut … when I told my aunt she couldn’t even believe it when I said IF is bringing us food parcels. We feel loved and really cared for. Thank you so much. –Tsireletso, Net Buddy Alum

We are now focused on our Net Buddies’ education. Schools are not yet functioning for the majority of students and most of our Net Buddies do not have access to computers or Internet connectivity to participate in online school. Our South African team is exploring several ways to connect our Net Buddies to educational resources and activities to keep them moving forward while their schools struggle to implement a plan that minimizes Covid-19 spread. We will share the details soon, as well as how you can continue to play a critical role strengthening our Net Buddies.

We thank you for your commitment to and continued support for South Africa’s teens. Knowing you care about them, even though thousands of miles away, gives them courage and strength to stay focused and safe.

With deep gratitude,

Amy Conrad Stokes

Founder, President and CEO

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New Net Buddy Coronavirus Support Portal
New Net Buddy Coronavirus Support Portal

One month ago, you made sure that Infinite Family’s South African teen mentees were not abruptly isolated and uninformed when their schools were closed for the National Lockdown. Your gift keeps our Net Buddy mentees in contact twice a day, 7 days a week, so we can answer their questions, reduce their fears and keep them focused on building skills that advance their education when school starts again.  In addition, the new outreach portal you sponsored has given constant access to their families and friends for:

  • Factual information about Coronavirus and Covid 19 and how to stay safe;
  • Uplifting messages of inspiration from their Video Mentors, celebrities and many others; and
  • Daily stimulating activities to keep their bodies and minds strong during this period of confinement.

Here are just a few of the comments we received as a result of your support:

  • I really appreciate the info. Most of us are scared at this moment getting such a support it show that we are not alone. Thank you. – Awkhiwe
  • This information is so helpful because I got to be informed about Covid-19. This was not only helpful to me but it was also helpful because I shared the information I received with others around me. -Zuzu
  • I would like to thank the person/people who were so thoughtful to warn us about the symptoms. I AM REALLY THANKFUL. - Hope

And these are a few of the important questions and fears you allowed us to hear and respond to:

  • How does quarantine assist in killing Covid 19?
  • How do I differentiate between flu symptoms and Covid 19 symptoms?
  • What will happen later in the future, will the virus be gone or will it wipe out half of the population on Earth?

As you can see, our Net Buddies live in communities without access to the role models and information they need to survive this pandemic and keep preparing for school and life success. You recognized that we are all in this together and filled this enormous gap!

We have a long way to go and life may never be the same again. Thanks to you, our Net Buddy mentees continue to build resilience, resourcefulness and responsibility, strengths they will always need to be successful in an uncertain future.

Please follow us @InfiniteFamily on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter if you wish to see the important content you make possible each day.

With deep appreciation,

Amy Conrad Stokes

Founder, President and CEO  

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Thokozani outside IF's LaunchPad computer lab
Thokozani outside IF's LaunchPad computer lab

 

"If any of you educators would like an English lesson, I would be happy to give it to you!" That's how Thokozani ended his short presentation on the difference his Video Mentor, Sharon, had made in his life in the year and a half they had been connected. 

He started his presentation by saying that in 8th grade, before starting video conversations (VCs) with Sharon through Infinite Family, he had been a shy and uncertain English speaker. He added that English had been one of his worst subjects and that he also struggled with all subjects that were taught in English, including math and science. Since meeting Sharon, he was proud to report that he was doing better in school overall, especially in English.

To Thokozani's surprise, his self-confidence had also increased dramatically, so much so, that he had begun to want to lead by example and be a role model for the younger students who were also struggling. Despite recently losing his father, he is always at the LaunchPad computer lab helping the Net Fundi lab managers and coaching the new Net Buddies as they learn the system.

Thokozani’s newfound skills will help him excel for the rest of his life.For starters, the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) has been studying the performance of 15 year olds worldwide in reading, math and science since 2000, including over 10 million students in 2018 alone! What have they found to be the most important indicators of student success? Confidence and self-motivation - both traits that Thokozani enthusiastically demonstrates now. 

In addition, in a country with 11 official languages, the ability to communicate well in English is absolutely critical in getting that important first job in South Africa and in earning promotions for the rest of our Net Buddies’ lives. The skills that you have helped Thokazani develop while working with his Video Mentor have put him on the path to earning more than five times what his non-mentored peers will earn – for the rest of his life. We thank all of you who have supported Infinite Family through GlobalGiving for investing in Thokozani and inspiring him to begin a life of leadership as a role model for success.

Now back to that English lesson – who wants to be first?

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Zethu Completing her Teaching Degree
Zethu Completing her Teaching Degree

By the time Zethu was in the tenth grade, five and a half years ago, she’d given up on life. “I didn’t think anyone was there for me,” says the 23-year-old, who grew up in a group home on the outskirts of Johannesburg. “I never dreamed of going to university—I thought that was a place for kids who were smart.” Grade ten was also the year that Zethu met her mentor, Paula. “She made me see how school would benefit me in the long run, so instead of dropping out, I decided to take one last set of tests, only to discover that I’d passed! So I decided to carry on with school.”

Being a Net Buddy mentee changed Zethu’s life in other ways, too. “It improved my English, and my writing skills, which helped me with my final exams.” Indeed, Zethu now has a coveted teaching internship and is in her third year in university, studying to get a degree in education. “I never thought I could get into university, but my Video mentor taught me that if I work very hard, I can do anything.”

Zethu has left the group home where she grew up and now lives on her own. She navigates the difficult and long daily travel across Johannesburg back and forth to college and has learned how to prioritize and organize her schedule to make the best use possible of her time waiting when buses are late or broken. It is an added disadvantage to live in a city and country where public transportation was never created in order to better control the 85% black population during apartheid.

 But Zethu carries on and coaches her younger sister on how to prepare for the next phase of her life as they both strive to succeed in school and obtain jobs that will allow them to build better, self-reliant lives. While most other First Generation college students in South Africa struggle to accomplish their first year of college, Zethu has almost finished her degree. Knowing she has overcome so many obstacles along the way, one after the other, with Paula’s support and encouragement continuing long after their formal mentoring days were past, Zethu is proud and confident that she will continue to move forward and achieve her ambition to prepare the next generation.

Thank you for making it possible for Zethu and hundreds of other South African students’ to have the one supportive adult they needed to create new life-long opportunities through good decisions, future-forward actions and hard work throughout their teen years.

Please visit Infinite Family’s new website at infinitefamily.org to read more success stories as they are published, and please follow us on social media @infinitefamily.

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Relebohile has always considered himself a shy person—and it didn’t help that he struggled with English. “I had difficulties reading and speaking out,” says the 20 year old, who began as a Net Buddy with Infinite Family eight years ago. “I was always the one hiding in the back of the room.” 

That changed when Relebohile met his Video Mentor, Dennis. “I was used to speaking my own language, but being a Net Buddy introduced me to English. I had to learn to speak it thoroughly so my Video Mentor and I could communicate.” Now a Net Blazer, he says, “My English has improved, both written and verbal.”

Dennis helped Relebohile learn how managing difficult family situations was just as important as learning language skills. Growing up in Soweto, his family members struggled to find work and often resorted to violence. “There was a lot of tension at home, but Dennis told me to keep calm and be positive,” he says. “He taught me that violence is not a way to solve problems—that it just causes more problems.” Relebohile’s new attitude not only helped him but also had a profound effect on his entire family. “If it wasn’t for Dennis I would still be holding grudges and there would still be tension at home,” he says. “But now, all of us are getting along.” 

Another big shift: Relebohile went from being a mediocre student to one who earned high marks. “I was lazy, actually. Before I joined Infinite Family, I’d rather play or do anything other than schoolwork,” he admits. Dennis suggested that they do homework during their video conversations. “We discussed subjects I was having difficulty with, and my grades improved a lot.” So much so that Relebohile is now in his second year of college, earning a certificate in IT, his passion. “Infinite Family introduced me to computers, which made me realize that I wanted to work in the field someday,” he says. “Dennis told me to go for it.” 

These days, Relebohile and Dennis communicate on WhatsApp and Facebook—but their communication is no less essential. “I’m from Soweto, where so many teenagers and adults are on drugs,” he says. “Dennis encourages me to be independent, and not allow that negativity to affect me.” What helps is knowing that his Video Mentor has his back. “For me, Infinite Family is where it begins—it has made me courageous, it has made me confident,” he says. “I like that it’s not just about me, but about us.”

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Organization Information

Infinite Family

Location: Dunkeld West, Johannesburg - South Africa
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @infinitefamily
Project Leader:
Amy Stokes
Founder and CEO
Dunkeld West, Johannesburg, Gauteng South Africa
$7,930 raised of $10,000 goal
 
114 donations
$2,070 to go
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