Building a Supportive Culture

By Faseeha Sherally (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)

We have definitely heard about Counselors, Coaches, Psychologists, Psychotherapists, and Psychiatrists. All of whom, and other like professions, provide guidance to one who is faced with challenges. Anyone heard about Mentors among other such Therapists?

Have you ever felt like ‘no one can ever know what exactly I am going through so how can they guide me, or ‘how can they advise me? Have they ever experienced it the way I am experiencing it? Or ‘I don’t want to talk to anybody who makes me feel like there are others who go through worse situations’ Or ‘I would rather not go to anyone, just talk to a friend or sort it out myself I don’t want anyone judging me and worse still, spreading the word to others in the community!’ or even ‘what’s the point of taking advice? I will do what I want to with my life.’

The truth is, every one of is an individual and unique even though we are in similar situations, each would experience and handle it differently. Moreover, it is a necessity for majority of us to confide in another to get different perspective/s as many a times we are too much in a hurdle with firing messages in the mind to think clearly and get over it.

So, how do I go about seeking help? I can choose to take advice from a close friend or family member, or visit one of the counselors or therapists but do I have the funds to afford their charges? Well, perhaps not for long. Oh well, probably I don’t need help from anyone else. I’m grown up enough to sort things out myself and no one really cares. Sure, it feels like I am living the hereafter in this realm, already.

How many people out there, especially youths face so much confusion that they can’t focus well in the opportunities present in front of them? How many marital relationships are at breaking point, perhaps only waiting for their children to become independent so that they would separate and go their own ways? How many parents do we have out there who brought children into the world only because they were feeling lonely or they felt obliged to, and now struggling to understand and cope with them in the fast-changing world, without getting frustrated and regretting why they ever became parents in the first place? How many single parents do we have, juggling between roles of mother and father to ensure their child doesn’t miss out on their basic and psychological needs? And how many of our children are growing and have grown up in dysfunctional families with separation, divorce, fights, violence, drugs, abuse and extra-marital affairs right on their innocent faces? How do you expect such children to grow up healthy and just learn to be good responsible youth and adults, never to repeat the mistakes their parents made, without offering them additional support?

By the way, this list is not exhaustive. How many amongst us have in us or in people close to us, special needs in the physical and/or mental sector but would rather not discuss about them in fear of being judged? The list is endless and is growing as the generations advance.

I feel the community is silent, or at least we have our heads buried in the sand. How strong is the force of rescuing and empowering our children and youth? I question whether there is a force or not, hoping it is out of my ignorance.

Well well……. what can we focus on as a community in order to strengthen our grassroots and prevent history repeating itself due to the basic learning that happens so subtly through the subconscious mind? How about developing a culture of mentorship? But wait, what do mentors exactly do? A mentor helps you discover the hope in yourself.

Mentors focus on a certain proven process, guiding you through open-ended questioning and other skills. The mentee is encouraged to explore different perspectives to a given situation or challenge and then choose what they want to start working on which would eventually affect other areas of their life in the process. They would be required to set a SMART goal, brainstorming numerous ways of achieving that goal, narrowing down on specific ways and giving themselves a timeline to achieve it.

The visualization technique that mentors make you experience has a powerful effect on you because it mentally takes you to where you really want to be, exactly how you picture things to be for yourself. Then, you figure out steps backwards to where you currently are, and thus create your path to your desired outcome in the future.

Mentor-mentee relationship is empowering as the goals and timelines come from the mentee themselves and so, making them feel responsible and committed for where they want to see themselves.

How beautiful it is to be in an environment, where a well-wisher can actually come up to you, spot talent in you, encouraging you to focus on that which you can build upon and excel in, whilst enjoying what you do at the same time! Do we have such well-wishers in our community? Or probably we do, but they cannot spot talent? Or majority of us care only about ourselves and immediate relatives/friends?

If anyone is interested to build on a supportive culture or is already working on it or even established it around them, please get in touch. It would be good to share ideas and work together.

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