3.2.1 Mentors require capacity building, encouragement, and possibly, compensation

Given the importance of mentoring to adolescent girls and young women, YEO practitioners must consider how best to train, orient, and support mentors as they interact with young people. This is important because many adults may not know how to mentor. In Haiti, Save the Children, an independent organization creating lasting change in the lives of children in need in the U.S. and around the world, and Making Cents International found that mentors reverted to traditional authoritarian roles rather than embrace the less formal and horizontal relationships that characterize mentoring. Mentors felt uncomfortable allowing the girls to question or use their own judgment. Despite those challenges, mentors in the program were able to build confidence over time.

Compensation can also be a challenge. Many programs pay mentors, even nominally, for their services. Skilled mentors then demand payment, leaving programs that do not compensate mentors with less qualified volunteers.

Practical Tips: Building the Capacity of Staff and Mentors in Conflict-Affected Situations

In Haiti, the Espas pa Mwen, or “My Space” program, implemented by Save the Children with technical assistance from Making Cents International, worked with mentors to support safe spaces and financial literacy programs for girls in Leogane and Jacmel. The pilot tested a model for empowering 200 girls, ages 10 to15, in 21 groups led by mentors from their communities. The girls were trained in life skills, including self-protection, reproductive health, hygiene, financial literacy, leadership, and decision-making. Based on its experiences the program recommends the following:

  • Train staff and mentors in how to present Reproductive and Sexual Health (RSH) topics to younger adolescents
  • Provide guidance to community members so they can assist in selecting mentors, participants, and spaces
  • Support mentors in adapting materials for girls
  • Build both staff and mentors’ understanding of gender-based violence and other gender issues
  • Tackle adult assumptions about girls. Mentors were surprised at the financial literacy gains that girls achieved (see following)

For more information about Save the Children, see http://www.savethechildren.org/site/c.8rKLIXMGIpI4E/b.6151435/k.B1C9/Haiti.htm