“Paying it Forward: The Mentee Becomes the Mentor”
Johannes was born in 1990 and raised by his grandmother in Lanseria, Guateng 45 minutes outside of Johannesburg, South Africa. His mother was never a constant presence in his life. Often, he would see her only once a year. Johannes was raised to be self-reliant and he had daily reminders from his grandmother that he could not rely on anyone else but himself. He feels like this was a tough, but good lesson to learn. Today, he prides himself on his ability to take care of himself.
Johannes joined Infinite Family in 2008 when he was 17 years old. He heard of the mentoring program from a friend and he initially decided to join because of an interest in computers. He ended up staying with the mentorship for two years and is currently working with Infinite Family on a part-time basis as a Net Blazer and Monitoring and Evaluation Associate. (A Net Blazer is a person who is no longer a teenager and has graduated out of the Net Buddy mentorship.)
Now, Johannes helps younger Net Buddies get started and coaches them on building their relationships with their mentors. Johanne’s favorite part of being a Net Blazer is the time he gets to mentor the younger Net Buddies. He is still in touch with his own mentor regularly and goes to him for advice when things get tough at home or when he needs advice with school or next steps in his career. His mentor has always been there for him through the good and the bad. Knowing he had someone there to talk to and confide in is something that sustained Johannes through his many teen challenges.
Being a part of the Infinite Family community gave him the foundation and motivation to do things he had no idea were possible, including receiving scholarships to self-fund the entirety of his undergraduate degree! In mid-2016, Johannes completed a Diploma certification in Financial Information Systems with the University of Johannesburg and he is now planning to go back to study for an Advanced Diploma in Accounting. He is hoping that he will be admitted into the University of South Africa for this program. Without the computer and communication skills he has learned through Infinite Family and the support and guidance of his mentor, he does not believe he would have made it so far in life.
One day, he hopes to secure a well-paid job and then eventually start a non-profit organization focused on supporting young people in his community. Despite many setbacks, he is grateful for the lucky breaks he has had in life. He is most appreciative of his grandmother, Infinite Family and his mentor for their unwavering support. He hopes to, one day, pay forward the kindness he received from Infinite Family.