For Colin, a 16-year-old who lives in a village in the Mpumalanga province, the idea of talking to a Video Mentor across the world felt intimidating.
“It was scary because I had no idea of the kind of person she would be. But when I did meet Nina, it was,” he says, “a dream came true.”
Colin wasn’t always a boy who would speak about his dreams. Before he met his Video Mentor, he says he would never have had the courage to stand in front of a crowd to speak. “But Nina gave me advice on how to do it—instead of meeting people’s eyes, which gives me the heebie-jeebies, I look at their foreheads so I’m not nervous. Recently, I stood in front of my entire school and delivered a prayer,” he says.
Nina also helps Colin with his schoolwork, getting down and dirty with exponents and algebraic functions. “It’s pretty difficult, but since we started our Video Conversations, my performance has been improving.” They also talk about their mutual love of travel, and teach each other. “I tell her about places to see in South Africa like Table Mountain, Gold Reef City, and Cape town,” says Colin. For her part, Nina, who is Canadian, is teaching Colin French. “I’ve always wanted to learn, and now I can speak a little,” he says.
Since becoming an Infinite Family Net Buddy, Colin’s world has gotten larger, and the possibilities feel endless. “My favorite subjects are life and physical science,” Colin says. “Eventually, I want to become a scientist and be the first person to find a cure for AIDs.”
Khotso is a young woman with big dreams. “I want to be a brain surgeon or a biomedical engineer,” she says, brimming with quiet pride. It wasn’t always this way. Before Khotso met her Video Mentor, Rachel, who she has been working with since 2016, the young teen had her share of problems. “I needed help with a lot of things personally. I was fighting with people. I needed someone to talk to,” she recalls.
Khotso, now 18, found that listening ear in Rachel. “We came up with solutions together,” says Khotso. “No one had done that with me before.”
Khotso lives in a group home near Soweto, so she sorely needed an adult’s personal attention and guidance, in both social situations and in school. “Both of us really like school, and Rachel helps me with homework. I’ve always had good grades, but after I talk with her, my grades always go up,” she says. Even more, Khotso appreciates having a confidante, someone with whom she can share her fears and dreams. “I can tell Rachel everything,” she enthuses. “It can be hard talking to someone in person, but it’s easier to express yourself in VCs, when you’re looking at someone on a screen.”
Not that Khotso shies away from expressing herself. “Having a Video Mentor has helped my confidence,” she says. “As I think about which university to go to next year, and what to do, I know she is there to guide me.”