This month sees our older children moving on to the next stage of their education. For some, this means continuing their 11 and 12 std studies or bachelors at colleges in Ahmednagar, for others it means vocational training, including software and mechanical engineering in Bangalore and Pune. Like all proud parents, we are really sad to see them go but we are also excited for their futures and we will be keeping in regular contact with them to hear how they are doing.
Among them are some of our peer counsellors who have been supporting our children and staff teams over the past two years. They have done an amazing job and picked up some great life skills along the way. They have matured so much that before leaving we gave them the responsibility of recruiting our next batch of peers. They held professional interviews making sure their replacements were the right choice and up to the challenge, while also sharing their advice and tips on doing a good job.
Some people are lucky to have a friend, family or counselor they can confide in. With the help of Dr Charles Tauber, founder of Coalition for Work with Psychotrauma & Peace (CWWPP), who has developed a ‘Barefoot Therapist’ model our mentors have been excellent listeners, non-judgmental, sympathetic to what they hear and have treated any issues brought to them in the strictest confidence.
They have shown incredible sensitivity and insightfulness and provided a link between our children and staff, advising staff on issues and seeking their advice on how best to approach and handle certain behaviors and situations.
The children in our shelter have responded well, seeking the mentors out when they had a problem they want to discuss with someone not in ‘authority’. The mentors have also been proactive in identifying and referring children to our professional counselling team and highlighting the immediate issues that we needed to address and suggesting relevant interventions and group activities.
Our peer mentors have exceeded all our expectations as we have watched them grow and develop their counselling, communication, teamwork and leadership skills. Their input and insights have proven so valuable that we regularly sought their views and opinions as genuine representatives and ambassadors of all of the children living in our care. We sincerely thank them for their time, enthusiasm and professionalism in dealing with sensitive issues and are excited to see our new peer counsellors develop in the same way. We can’t wait to start training and working with them.
Read more about what they learned and thought of the experience:
"In the last two years my listening ability has increased tremendously and I have learned not to just give opinions but to offer suggestions to help someone in need."
"I have developed many qualities including increased confidence and reduced anger."
"I now have good communication skills learnt from my seniors."
"Personally I feel that my leadership qualities have been developed."
"In the beginning, I was very shy to go on stage to talk or participate, but after our training and managing lots of different events I have gained confidence and improved my communication skills."
"Conducting different activities for kids has boosted our leadership skills. I also learned that by instructing kids and avoiding shouting or beating it's possible to build a good rapport and trust."
"I used to feel that there were many issues amongst kids and caregivers and being a mentor gave me the opportunity to deal and resolve some of them."
"My communication and leadership skills have increased and I will continue to learn more about them to help kids resolve their issues."
"Anger, event and time management and other training helped us to understand the difference between leadership and bossing. I also learned how to communicate with young children to build good rapport with them."