Elixirr officially launched its mentoring programme with Twilight two weeks ago when mentors from the Elixirr team in Johannesburg and their mentees from Twilight had a fun, relaxed and informal dinner with the aim of getting to know one another better and discussing the mentoring programme. The objective of the mentoring programme is to provide a support system for the boys as they embark on their journeys to achieve their respective professional and personal aspirations.

During dinner I had the pleasure of meeting my mentees, two exceptionally ambitious and inspiring young men, Phumlani and Mehluli. Phumlani is 19 years old and helped set-up and now runs the Twilight library. I was awed and touched by the passion with which Phumlani described the work he does at the library and with his obvious and wholehearted dedication not only to his job, but also to helping the younger boys at Twilight. They benefit greatly from the library as it provides them with access to a sizeable collection of books to draw from, both for educational and recreational purposes, and gives them a quiet place to study. Phumlani often helps them with their school work long after the Library’s official closing time. Since Twilight have yet to implement an electronic database to manage all the books in the library (but plan to do that soon), and in order to ensure that he has the right skills to continue doing his job well when that happens, Phumlani has decided to sign up for an IT course at the IQ Academy. He has been proactive in reaching out to the IQ Academy, understanding what the requirements are and what the course includes, and hopes that the degree he obtains will not only help him continue managing the Twilight Library but also open new career opportunities.

Mehluli is an 18 year old Zimbabwean and is currently in his last year of school and preparing for his matric exams. He is an extremely bright, charismatic young man and is an avid and very talented cage fighter who wants to pursue higher education in media with the aim of becoming a reporter or presenter at a TV or Radio station in South Africa. What I found striking when speaking to him was his maturity and wisdom. While discussing the future and potential career paths, Mehluli told me that although quite a few young men with his talent and passion for cage fighting would choose to try and make a living from it, he believed that the wiser choice would be to study, obtain a degree and pursue a career path that was both sustainable and rewarding.

I left dinner that night feeling extremely humbled and very privileged at having been selected to participate in this programme. I am confident that I speak for the rest of the team when I say that I felt overwhelmed by the enthusiasm with which this programme was received, and by the honest and genuinely interesting conversations we had with the boys from Twilight. I sincerely hope that I am able to provide helpful advice and guidance to Phumlani and Mehluli and believe that this mentorship programme will be a great learning experience for both the mentors and mentees as we aim to make a difference in these young men’s lives.