January 2012

Mentoring Project


By Hazel Bowen, National President

Alison on the school premises.
Alison on the school premises.

Some months ago the SAAWG national office was approached by Alison Martyn,a mature student from Hawaii, USA. She wished to (a) visit Africa and (b) undertake a project linked to her current studies. Funding for such a trip was fortunately included in her scholarship. She had made various enquiries about suitable projects but had not been able to locate anything that was appropriate. As a result she extended her enquiries among friends and members of women’s organisations to which she belonged. Her search proved positive.

A couple of years ago a member of Women Graduates, USA, visited Cape Town, South Africa, and made contact with members of the Cape Town branch; visits and meetings had been arranged. She advised Alison to get in touch with me.  

At the time of Alison’s approach the Cape Town branch and National office were working on a mentorship project to address specific academic literacy and career development inadequacies in a number of schools within the high school system. The intention is for this project to link to and expand upon the modules offered by the Johannesburg branch's Aurora Schools Project which has been running for over 14 years. A pilot project will be run in Cape Town in 2012 with a view to introducing it into more schools in the future.

Although December/January, the time when Alison was available, was a  period when schools and many other organisations were closed, Alison was delighted to participate in developing lesson plans and course material in consultation with the project committee.  

We visited schools in the area where we shall run our pilot programme. Despite the area being very poor, one school in particular has achieved good results. This is attributed to the school having a strong management system. Moreover, the principal has welcomed our involvement. He is looking to make the four high schools in the area “centres of excellence”!  We felt this is a good place to begin the Cape Town programme. Alison was not able to liaise with the Johannesburg programme organisers.

Alison stayed with me for this period (18 December 2011 to 12 January 2012) and was taken on a number of tours around the Cape Peninsula. She also undertook a two day visit to Johannesburg and its environs, mainly to have a “true bushveld wild animal experience” in a game reserve.

Alison is an ex-police officer studying gender, environmental justice and international politics.  She intends to continue with a law degree and work within Interpol in Africa in the future.  

She left South Africa with many ideas of papers she could write for her various courses in 2012, and  had gained an insight into South Africa while assisting us with our project.  A perfect example of a “win-win” situation through an informal twinning arrangement.  By the way, she hopes to raise sufficient funds to return later in the year to participate in one of the modules on Fitness and Self-Defence!

B loekombos, Kraaifontein, Western Cape

The Masibambane High School is in Bloekombos, Kraaifontein,
Western Cape