Last year, Samantha, a newly appointed mentor, was assigned her first mentee, Azim. Both of them had very different backgrounds and came from two contrasting worlds.
Before settling in England, Samantha had lived in Germany and France, while Azim had travelled a long way from Afghanistan. Samantha, a professional and confident business woman, ran her own successful recycling business whereas Azim, who came from a humble background, was more wary of new people and was apprehensive about British culture and way of life. Their perspectives on life were different too: Samantha was an atheist and Azim a practicing Muslim. There was also the big age gap.
Having fled Afghanistan, Azim didn’t like travelling alone and very rarely ventured out of the area in London in which he was placed by the local authority when he arrived. He suffered from nightmares and found it hard to open up about his traumatic experiences. His limited English and struggle to communicate his feelings only added to his stress. Therefore, as part of his targets to build confidence, Samantha took Azim around London, sightseeing many of the capital’s great parks and museums. After meeting for a few months Azim told us “it is good to see new interesting places.”
Azim’s distrust of people slowly dwindled and he started venturing out alone. Samantha improved his diet too as Azim didn’t know how to cook. Gradually, this made him feel more motivated and less fatigued. Azim joined a local cricket club, felt less isolated and began to socialise a lot more with his peers.
The relationship went from strength to strength and Samantha helped him learn new words to improve his English:
Sam teaches me English words about the past and future, and emotion words about feelings… She talks to me nicely and she’s helping me. Azim - mentee
Azim eventually felt he could speak and communicate to Samantha about anything that mattered to him. “Over time” says Samantha,
"My mentee and I built a beautiful relationship and had many important conversations about many different subjects." Despite their differences, in a short time, a strong rapport developed. Samantha said they both came to understand that, simply, “we are human and we share the same values and needs”. Samantha - Mentor
Gradually, Azim learnt more about British culture and found himself integrating more and more. Over time Samantha noticed that he “started to have belief in himself, have more self-esteem, seeing more value within himself” and generally “carried himself with more easiness.”
Over 6-months, the mentor-mentee relationship brought two contrasting worlds together in a way that had a profound effect not only on Azim but on Samantha too. “I’ve gained a deep insight into the refugee and asylum-seeker crisis and how it affects humans on a day to day basis.” She realised that many newspapers and TV stations used negative stereotypes to portray asylum-seekers, and that this was far from being the full picture.
Samantha said this experience would not be possible if she hadn’t been given the opportunity by Hope for the Young to be a mentor:
Hope for the Young is an amazing organisation. It plays a crucial role in helping people transition into a new world with more ease and guidance. Samantha - Mentor
It is thanks to people like Samantha that we are able to help young refugees and asylum-seekers, like Azim, to live the best life they can, giving them the tailored support they need. If you’d like to become a Volunteer Mentor with Hope for the Young, or would like to donate to support our work, then hit the buttons below.