Sunday, August 18, 2013

Welcome to MentorMe Mumbai

Hello Everyone,

Say hi to Sunita*.

Sunita was born a LOT after I was. In fact she wasn't even born in the same century as me. She is a Capricorn, born in 2001, which makes her 12 years old. Her family is from Gujarat, but she also speaks Hindi and Marathi. When she grows up she wants to become a computer engineer, a banker, a chef, an engineer, a flight attendant, and this makes me really proud, an economist. Like so many girls her age, she comes from a family where they hardly understand what some of these words mean, let alone help her transform them into reality. Her mother works as a cleaner in a school and her father is a factory worker. Fortunately, Amish has one thing going for her that can make it a tiny bit more likely that she actually achieves her dreams. She is a part of the first cohort of MentorMe India.

MentorMe India is an initiative started by some folks here in the Cambridge area with the aim of adapting the Big-Brother Big-Sister mentoring program here in the USA to an Indian context. In 2013, they have matched 30 girls in a school in Shindewadi in Mumbai to 30 working women in the Mumbai area. The idea is that these women will meet with their respective mentees about twice a month, do activities with them in and around the Mumbai area, talk to them about life and help them fulfil their potential. The MentorMe website and the video below are quite wonderful in general, so I wont repeat myself here.

This is the school in Shindewadi MentorMeIndia is working with.

Sunita's Mentoring Team

Sunita's main contact with MentorMeIndia will be through her fabulous, wonderful, highly motivated and multifariously talented mentor Ahana. This is a picture of Ahana.

Ahana went to IIT, is a "Petro Technical Expert" at a high-fi-types firm, is a trained classical dancer AND a trained classical singer. And now, thanks to this opportunity at MentorMe Ahana is spending every other Sunday with Sunita. There's absolutely no doubt that some of Ahana's fabulousness is going to rub off on Sunita. 

Where do I come in, you ask? For each assigned pair, there is a "champion" based out of the US that supports the relationship, both financially and by talking to the mentor about once a month to make sure that everything is going OK.

As I call Ahana now and then, and ask her "how's it going?" -- I'll be peeking into this flowering relationship from start to finish. What better way to spread the MentorMe word and experience the challenges and joys of mentoring than to watch into this relationship, dare-I-say *my* relationship, as it develops and evolves? So that's where this blog comes in.

I will hopefully be documenting the details of what happened, what I thought as we go through, and I will bug Ahana occasionally and ask her to contribute also.

A special note of thanks to Siddharth, Anu, Vithoo, Shantanu and Aditya who helped me raise money in order to help Ahana and Sunita get together. This blog is dedicated to all of them. 

Do keep visiting! And if you would like to help in any way, please go to my fundraising page or email me at abhishek DOT nagaraj AT gmail and help this thing grow!


1: Why the girl we are mentoring is not really called Sunita, we are adopting it as a pseudonym in order to protect her confidentiality. Throughout this blog, we will refer to her as Sunita, although her real name is quite different than that.