Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is required to be a Video Mentor?
A: Successful Mentors:
- Are at least 21 years old and have completed Infinite Family’s start-up and training process.
- Have a high-speed Internet connection and a webcam.
- Complete an online training program that helps them understand the culture, the technology, the mentoring model, and the children, as well as helps our team to find the right match.
Following the training, mentors will be ready to connect with their Net Buddy mentees.
Q: How much time does it take to mentor a child in Africa?
A: We ask mentors to commit to working with their Net Buddy for at least one (1) year. Mentors spend 30 minutes each week video chatting with their Net Buddy. Video conversations take place approximately 35 weeks / year.
Q: How do I know what to say when I mentor?
A: Infinite Family's insightful and inspiring Online Anytime Training consists of pre-recorded videos covering a wide range of topics to help you understand your Net Buddy, their lives and their culture. In addition, your role as a video mentor is explained and we'll give you ideas on how to develop a strong bond using the tools available to you on the Internet.
Our final Live Training Webinar is totally interactive, so you will be able to ask questions of current Infinite Family staff and get pointers on how to interact with your Net Buddy. You will be instructed how to use the interactive video conversation desktop and the tools available to you on our password protected Internet platform, the Ezomndeni Net. The training prepares you for meeting your Net Buddy and developing a strong, lasting and enriching relationship.
Curricula with different activities is available to mentors. The curriculum targets the discussion of different topics that allow Net Buddies to practice important skills, such as goal setting, decision making, time management, and others.
Q: What are the primary goals of mentoring?
A: Infinite Family’s mission is to promote self-reliance -- to augment what is taught in the classroom and the home to help develop resilient, responsible, and resourceful students as they prepare for their lives as young adults and beyond. To achieve these goals, Infinite Family mentors help their Net Buddies develop skills in: Education, Career Preparation, Technology, Communication and Life Skills.
Infinite Family is unique in providing mentees with an ongoing, "face-to-face" guide through a turbulent and often isolated period of their lives to a broader vision of their own capabilities and the world. This long-term, personalized interaction strengthens youth with very limited resources or support networks with the confidence, skills and global perspective that promote success.
Q: What is included in the Internet platform, the Ezomndeni Net?
A: Ezomndeni is the Zulu word meaning “everything related to family.” The Ezomndeni Net is Infinite Family's proprietary, secure, Internet platform. It includes many of the features from your favorite social networking sites. Net Buddies and video mentors have access to email, affinity groups, blogs, photos, and a calendar, as well as access to our interactive video chat desktop. The video chat desktop allows Net Buddies and video mentors to interact face-to-face using a webcam while drawing or writing on a virtual whiteboard or notepad, sharing computer screens, or visiting websites together.
Q: When do video conversations take place?
A: There is a 6-7 hour time difference between the east coast of North America and most of Africa on Central African Time (CAT). Daylight saving is not in place in many African countries, including SA. Therefore, video conversations are scheduled after school hours for the Net Buddy mentees, which correspond to mornings in the eastern US and Canada.
On weekday mornings, video conversations usually start at 8am and continue until 11am EST. On weekends, video conversations begin as early as 6am and continue until noon EST.
Q: Do the children speak English?
A: Net Buddies have varying degrees of comfort with English, which makes this one of the first areas of visible progress. Older children generally are more advanced in their written and spoken English. Younger children have less developed skills and will struggle with written English. You will certainly see great strides in your Net Buddy’s English skills as your relationship progresses.
Q: What happens if I need to miss a few weeks with my Net Buddy due to vacation, business travel or illness?
A: Although we encourage our video mentors to keep their weekly video conversation time as consistent as possible, we all understand the need for flexibility. If a vacation or other situation arises that necessitates missing a few video conversations, we ask that you tell your Mentoring Support Specialist as early as possible so they can make sure your Net Buddy is notified ahead of time so they don’t misinterpret your absence and think they have done something wrong.
There are also natural breaks in the video conversation calendar. Net Buddies have school holidays from:
- The beginning of December until mid-January,
- Late March to early April,
- Late June to early July, and
- In early October.
During these times, there are no scheduled video conversations.
Q: Where do the children come from?
A: Infinite Family works in partnership with local schools and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that already provide quality food, medical and educational access to children affected by HIV/AIDS and poverty. Our partners know their communities and their young people best and they identify which teens and pre-teens need mentoring and what we can else we can do to help the teens in their areas.
Q: Can my family and friends participate?
A: From time to time many of Infinite Family's video mentors include their children, loved ones and extended family in their video conversations. We must emphasize that the primary need of our Net Buddies is to have adult mentors. This means that the majority of the interactions must be between the trained adult video mentor and their matched Net Buddy. Including others from your group of family and friends in your video conversations is fun and enhances the connection, but should not overshadow the primary mentoring relationship.
Q: I'm not 21. Can I still be a video mentor?
A: Not at this time. By maintaining at least a half generation gap between mentors and mentees, mentors have sufficient experience and life skills to share with their Net Buddies. As a result, we do require Infinite Family video mentors to be at least 21 years of age.
Q: What other volunteer opportunities are possible with Infinite Family?
A: Infinite Family needs help spreading the word about the incredible work of our mentors and Net Buddy mentees. We are always looking for volunteers to introduce us to people in your local community via personal get-togethers or by building the worldwide community following us on social media.
Whenever we can’t attend an event in person, we’ll join you "virtually" via video conversation! We'll demo what Infinite Family means by video mentoring and help you spread the word, raise money for mentoring scholarships and invite new video mentors to join Infinite Family.
In social media, we also need individuals who can help us monitor media reports, blogs and articles about Infinite Family, as well as tweeting, blogging and spreading the word about all the good things happening at Infinite Family. Even reposting our messages on your own social networking sites can make a big difference.
We also are always improving and increasing the curricula under development for our mentors and Net Buddies to use. If you have curricula development, computer or graphic design skills, we would love to see if one of our projects might be “just your size.”
Please let us know if you are in New York City or Johannesburg – we would love to show you how we make video mentoring happen. So, please, don't hesitate to contact us, even if video mentoring isn't right for you at this point in time.