A few weeks ago I was life planning a wonderful couple who had just retired. Peter was finding his retirement extremely difficult and felt that without his work something was missing. After further discussion his face lit up when he told me how he loved to teach and really wanted to be able to pass on basic life skills to youths who hadn’t had the same opportunities in life he had had. But where and how would this happen? I encouraged him to actively participate in making his passion a reality and to start the journey, and I assured him that the opportunity would present itself.
The theme of passing on knowledge comes up in so many of the life planning meetings I have with retired people. What I have found is that at this stage in life, when people stop working, they are looking for something meaningful to do with their time. For some people, hobbies, working and travel aren’t enough to give them a feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment. Mentoring can bring purpose into their lives and be a way of giving back.
The children and adolescents of South Africa are in desperate need of good role models. There is an entire generation of children who have grown up without an adult influence and need help in order to be effective and responsible adults themselves. There is no one more equipped to help them along their journey into adulthood than the retired people of South Africa – who have accumulated the most life experience and can instill in them the wisdom of age. It is also something that could expand their knowledge and experience, and perception of life. Because the younger generations are filled with energy and a desire to learn, they can in turn invigorate and fulfill their ‘mentors’ who have so much knowledge and experience to impart to them.
I would like to tell you about a group of people who started an organisation called Community Assisting Schools (CAS). They wanted to help schools in need with general maintenance of buildings, equipping libraries and computer rooms, providing catering, finding sponsorship for sports equipment, arranging motivational talks on life skills and career choices, and assisting with welfare and counselling. They are looking for, and would appreciate new volunteers and or sponsors.
Mentoring can mean different things to different people. Here are different ways to mentor:
This could include mentoring a student who is studying your profession (engineer, doctor, advocate, and entrepreneur) and guiding them through the process of becoming an effective professional and helping them with their studies.
Working with disadvantaged children and teaching them the valuable life lessons and skills that they might never have been exposed to.
Working with children of any age and passing on a skill that such as sewing, dancing, wood working that could add value and meaning to their lives.
This usually applies to young professional who are out of school and working in a professional environment. It could involve passing on skills and knowledge that will enhance the less experienced person’s professional growth.
Before you start, ask yourself the following questions:
What time commitment can I make?
What kind of people do I want to work with (formerly disadvantaged children, young entrepreneurs, students who are studying your profession, new mothers)?
Would I like to work with one-on-one or with a group?
Would I like to team up with other mentors or would I prefer to do it on my own?
What knowledge do I want to impart? Do I want to help someone learn a specific skill, guide them through a process, or perhaps just be a supporting friend to whom they can turn for advice?
What mentoring location would I prefer?
Think of ways to share your talents, skills and experience so that as a retired community we can impart the tools needed to build a stronger society.
For interesting reading related to this topic, have a look at the following articles on RetireSuccesfully.co.za
Food garden Celebration at Khayelitsha Special School – By Jeunesse Park
In Search of Meaning – By Lynda Smith
If you have any ideas, or know of organisations where the Retire Successfully community could get involved, please forward them to firstname.lastname@example.org.