May 1, 2012

Reflective Practice Session - April 29, 2012

The following are notes from discussions at a Reflective Practice Session at one of the partner centers on April 29, 2012.


Ketan mentors Shafiq a 17 year old boy from a slum in Bommanahalli in Bangalore. Shafiq lives with his parents, younger brother and sister, who are in school. He has an older brother who dropped out of school and is married. He is the second child among four children.

He was pursing his 10th std. and getting ready for his final exams when Ketan met him for the first time. They have been meeting for 3 months now. They have been meeting almost every week.

Shafiq likes to sketch, drawing and henna designs. His favorite subject at school is Kannada. He shared that he has a challenge with Mathematics and was attending extra classes to help him improve. He seemed to want to live up to his family’s expectation and do well in his studies.

Ketan felt that they managed to break the ice quite early and there was a rapport building between them and the regular meetings helped do this even before Shafiq’s exams began. He also managed to meet Shafiq’s family.

Shafiq also shared that he was nervous and anxious about his exams.

However Ketan could not meet Shafiq since his exams started but he plans to re-connect with him soon. He shared that he couldn’t stay in touch to talk about his exams and really help on that front, as he was occupied as well.

Feedback/Validation/Suggestions from the Group

  • It’s good that Ketan managed to build a rapport with Shafiq very early and meet him very often. This would have helped his mentee to open up. Ketan has made attempts to validate Shafiq when he shared his concerns about his exams and talked about his family and interests.

  • Perhaps Ketan would be feeling bad about not being there to help Shafiq through his anxiety about his exams. It was probably challenging staying in touch with Shafiq during his exams and since Ketan was also pre-occupied with other work. However it’s great that Ketan is now attempting to connect with him soon as Shafiq’s exams are over.


Jagadish mentors Salim an 18 year old boy from a slum in Bommanahalli in Bangalore. Salim lives with his parents. He has two sisters who are married. His father is a vegetable vendor.

Jagadish met Salim while he was in school few months away from his 10th final exams. They have been meeting every two weeks for 3 months now.

While they discussed his preparations for exams, Salim mentioned that he was quite nervous. Jagadish offered some validation and also shared his own challenges and things he did while preparing for his exams. He suggested that Salim try spending time early mornings to study rather than late at night.

During the exams, Jagadish stayed in touch with Salim on the phone.

Salim finished writing his 10th std. exams and now works at a store at a Mall in Koramangala. He took up the job to help earn some money for his family. He seems very happy with his job. He likes the fact that he has a uniform and is working in a mall, a different environment. He shared that he didn’t want to work with his father selling vegetables.

Sometimes a lot of conversation revolves around cricket as Jagadish also shares an interest in the game.

Jagadish managed to visit Salim’s home and met his family twice. They seem to understand and were happy that their son is having a mentor.

Salim wishes to continue his education and do his PUC. After two years, his father has plans to move the family to Tumkur where they have a small piece of land for agriculture.

Jagadish continues to be in touch and plans to meet him at his workplace.

Feedback/Validation/Suggestions from the Group

  • Jagadish seems to be making good progress with his mentee and its great that they are meeting often and were in touch even through Salim’s exams.
  • It’s good that Jagadish identified a common interest in cricket and this allows some casual conversation as well and helps build the rapport.
  • Jagadish has met with Salim’s family. This would have helped reduce any apprehension the family had and strengthened the mentoring relationship.
  • It’s good to know Jagadish offering a lot of validation. For example helping Salim talk about his apprehensions and fears about his final exams and offering some more validation by sharing Jagadish’s own challenges when he was in school.
  • A lot of listening and validation by Jagadish would have certainly helped Salim open up and talk about his new job that he likes and not wanting to take up his father’s occupation selling vegetables. 
         Perhaps the work at the mall and uniform makes him
    • feel good about himself
    • feel some independence about having his own space
    • feel responsible as he is now contributing to his family now
    • excited about spending time in a new environment -the mall itself 
         Perhaps working with his father would make him
·         worry about what others would say or embarrassed if he sold vegetables on the street
·         not that excited as working in a mall

Maybe these conversations around his work and plans for PUC and the family moving to Tumkur can continue. There may be a lot more that could emerge.


Priti mentors Jayanthi a 17 year old girl who lives in a slum in Roopena Agrahara in Bangalore. She lives with her parents who irons/ presses clothes for a living. She also has an older sister.

Priti met Jayanthi when she was in high school, a few months away from her 10th std. final exams. They have been meeting for 3 months now.

Jayanthi was nervous for her initial meetings. But started opening up quite soon. She talked about her fears about her exams and expectations of teachers and parents.

One day she talked about her attraction to a boy at her school and wondered why she felt that way. Priti tried to offer some validation and Jayanthi started to open up more as Priti listened without judgment. They didn’t talk about it after that but it seems she continues to meet him.

Another day she mentioned she was unhappy with her parents favoring others and comparing her with other kids.

Jayanthi had some close friends in high school. They were very important for her. She mentioned that some of her friends who also had mentors, said that their mentors were not turning up to see them. Priti worried if this would somehow affect their relationship but continued to ensure they met often.

Priti also met Jayanthi’s family and grandmother. In a conversation with her family, Priti learnt that Jayanthi’s parents were supportive of her continuing education.

During her exams Jayanthi and Priti were in touch on the phone almost every week.

Jayanthi’s final exams are over but she is now worried and insecure about her results. She mentioned once that perhaps she should start working. Priti felt maybe she think this might compensate for her not doing well. She then tried to validate Jayanthi’s fears and insecurity and then also reassure her that things thing may not be that bad and there are always other options.

Jayanthi recently joined a course in English and Computers at the DreamConnect Center in Koramangala with Priti’s help.

Feedback/Validation/Suggestions from the Group

  • It’s great to see that Priti able to build a rapport and ensure regular meetings with her mentee. Nice to see that Jayanthi is able to talk to Priti and open up although she was a bit nervous in the beginning.
  • Lots of validation from Priti and not being judgmental would have certainly helped Jayanthi open up and confide in Priti about her thoughts and feelings about a boy she was attracted to. It’s good that Priti gave her that space without probing too much.
  • It’s understandable that one would be worried if your mentee would start to doubt your commitment or lose interest in you, especially when she talks about what her friends say about other mentors who were not turning up to meet them. It’s great that Priti tried to keep the meetings going despite this fear and concern in her mind.
  • Priti helped validate Jayanthi’s fears about her exams and insecurity about herself and thoughts about not being able to meet the expectations of her parents if she doesn’t do well. In a way, the suggestion to a try a summer course, helping her gain access to the course and reassuring her that there are other options would have helped Jayanthi stay positive and help take things off her mind. 


Vishal mentors Ravi, an 18 year old boy, who lives at boy’s orphanage near Diary Circle in Bangalore. They have been meeting for 3 months now. They usually meet on Saturdays the day allotted for mentoring meetings by the orphanage.

Ravi has been living at the orphanage for almost 10 years now. He was abandoned at a young age by his family. He has a sister who is married but they are not in touch. He works part-time as a traffic police assistant, a job the orphanage helped find for him.

He is also attempting to complete his 10ths exams through a special program for school drop-outs. He had dropped out of school in the 7th std. He attempted 3 exams and will do the others next year.

Vishal mentioned that there are restrictions for the children at the orphanage about going out and making phone calls. So sometimes it’s difficult to meet or talk to him if schedules don’t work on Saturdays.

Ravi is quite friendly and confident. He is one of the oldest boys at the orphanage and gets some attention and given errands to do. He is quite popular as he is talented in sports, dance and poetry.

Initially Vishal and Ravi have mostly had casual conversations about his interests, his work and education. He seems to be comfortable talking to Vishal.

Later, Vishal tried to talk to Ravi about his sister. Ravi didn’t seem very interested in talking about her. He didn’t really want to contact her either. He didn’t think she would care. Vishal however, suggested he make an attempt to stay in touch and see what happens. He offered to make a phone call so Ravi could speak to her and Ravi spoke to her for a few minutes. It was brief but he was willing to do it again next week. He spoke to her again.

Most boys are required to move out from the orphanage once they turn 18 years. Ravi and a few other boys may have to leave in a month’s time. Vishal and Ravi didn’t really talk about this much. Ravi didn’t bring it up either. Vishal decided to push it for later as he wanted Ravi to focus on his exams and not worry at that time.

Vishal shared that while he is aware that the transition from the orphanage to a life outside would be challenging, he was not sure how he could help Ravi, in what way – finding a job or vocational course for him? He has been thinking about what he can do to help Ravi.

Feedback/Validation/Suggestions from the Group

  • It’s great that Vishal attempted a conversation about Ravi’s sister. That must not have been easy. But through some validation, Vishal that encouraged him to try. The offer to allow him to make a phone call using Vishal’s phone would have certainly encouraged him further. Some of the things that may have discouraged Ravi earlier could be:-
    • Perhaps he didn’t feel she cared for him because she wasn’t in touch with him for a long time or didn’t visit him. Maybe he didn’t want to be rejected. Maybe he didn’t want to be a burden.
    • Maybe it would make him feel sad and remind him about being abandoned by his family.
    • Maybe his past experience at reaching out to her didn’t work.
So the normal response would be to avoid the situation/conversation. Maybe further validation could be attempted in future conversations about his sister. We might understand what’s on his mind and if something unpleasant happened in the past.

  • We understand that Vishal is worried about Ravi’s challenges as he moves out from the orphanage and how he can help him.  Perhaps Vishal can attempt a conversation around this next time he meets Ravi to understand what he’s been thinking and what he wants to do before we make suggestions. Maybe offer some validation about how he feels and what he thinks.
  • It’s okay not having a solution or answer right away. It’s understandable since we don’t have enough information yet. But any discussion or conversation about the situation is part of the process of helping him too. So Vishal is on the right track.
o    Although Ravi seems okay now, since the orphanage is the closest thing he has had to a home for 10 years, moving out can bring some anxiety and confusion. What next? What do I do?

o    Since he is yet to live on his own, there are chances he may have a lot of apprehensions and fears about being alone.

There are options such as vocational courses that help with job opportunities. Or maybe Ravi would continue in his current job. Dream A Dream can help Vishal find some information with regard to vocational courses and job opportunities if he needs help.

However maybe right now, we also need some more information about the kind of support and resources available to him from the orphanage through this phase of transition - especially accommodation, his education, how much time would be extended to him till he moves out, access to the money earned through his part-time job…etc.

A conversation with the staff at the orphanage may help us prepare for the next conversation with Ravi.


Mahesh mentors Kumar, who is 17 years old and lives in a slum in Rajendranagar in Bangalore. He lives with his parents and two brothers and sister. His father is a carpenter and mother works as a house-maid.

Kumar met Mahesh when he was few months away from his 10th  final exams. They haven’t been able to meet much although they have been in touch over the phone.

Mahesh has not been very successful in his attempts to meet with Kumar. Several times Kumar didn’t turn up for a scheduled meeting after Kumar agreed to meet. Sometimes he would say he had some work at home or was out.

Mahesh also found it challenging to have a long conversation with Kumar on the phone. Sometimes it was hard to reach him because the phone was with his father and he would be out.

They could not meet for sometime as Kumar was having his exams.

They met twice and both times, Kumar was very nervous and spoke very little. He would speak very fast and seemed afraid or shy. Mahesh tried to offer some validation but it seemed like Kumar is someone who needs more time to open up.

They spoke about his interests and hobbies. Kumar likes to play cricket with his friends.  He talked about a close friend of his who he plays cricket with. He talked about his interest in pursuing PUC after his 10th and opting for commerce subjects. Kumar also mentioned that he may be looking for part-time work.

Mahesh now plans to maybe go out to a park or the mall nearby and see if that helps.

Feedback/Validation/Suggestions from the Group

  • It’s probably been very frustrating and disappointing when Kumar doesn’t turn up for scheduled meetings. Especially when you make so many attempts to meet him and speak to him on the phone. When you want to help someone and it seems like he is not interested or responding, it can be tough to stay motivated. But it’s good to see how patient and persistent Mahesh has been despite these challenges.
  • Maybe Kumar is not used to conversations with adults in this manner. This may be new to him. He may be used to adults leading the conversation and him responding with answers.
  • He might not be a person who opens up and talks much with new people. He may not be sure how to go about with a conversation with Mahesh and what he can say and wonders what kind of person Mahesh is and so could be nervous. And since there has been few meetings he has not got to know Mahesh well enough either.
  • It’s good that Mahesh thought of trying an activity with Kumar. This may make it easier to have a conversation. Sometime the long silences can be awkward for both Mahesh and Kumar. So an activity could in a way fill that space.  So going out or a game indoors or trying something on the internet could help.
  • Maybe even joining him in some activity like cricket or something he likes to do will help break the ice. If he likes to talk about cricket it could become a topic for conversation too.
  • Since he mentioned he was looking for a part-time job maybe this is a conversation he would be interested in having currently. Perhaps you could also offer some validation around this need of his to find part-time work, challenges at home…etc.
  • So let’s try a few things again and see if he responds. It’s great that Mahesh has been patient for so long and we hope he can try for some more time. If things don’t work let’s talk about it again.


Phebega mentors Bhavya, who is 16 years old and lives in a slum in Eijipura in Bangalore. She lives with her parents and younger brother. Her father is a painter and mother sometimes works as a house-maid.

Bhavya was pursuing her PUC and was a few weeks from her first year final exams when she met Phebega. They have been meeting for 3 months now.

Bhavya seems very shy and does not talk much. At her first meeting, she barely spoke. She was very quiet. Initially she had assumed that Phebega would now help with tutoring support. But then Phebega tried to explain how she can help and be more like a friend she can talk to.

Most of the conversation since then revolved around her studies and the upcoming exams. She didn’t initially talk much about her interests or her family.

They could not meet sometimes as Bhavya some pooja or prayer at her house some Saturdays. And Phebega was not available on some Sundays.

During the exams although they didn’t meet they were in touch on the phone almost every evening. She seemed more comfortable speaking on the phone than in person. She discussed the paper and questions she attempted and how she should have done and would ask for Phebega’s opinion. She would call Phebega if she didn’t call her to say she should have called. She seemed eager to speak to Phebega. Bhavya mentioned that she found two subjects – English and Sociology difficult.

Later Bhavya found she cleared her papers and she shared that she was very happy.

She was upset she didn’t know about Phebega’s birthday, as she was out of town that week to visit her sister in Shimoga.

Once Bhavya mentioned that she liked spending time with her older sister and her baby. But they live far away in Shimoga and her parents would not allow her to travel to visit her on her own. She didn’t like that. She said she feels better with her sister than spending time at home. She didn’t say anything further and Phebega didn’t probe.

One day Phebega brought some UNO cards and thought she could play with Bhavya and maybe this will help break the ice further. They played for a while.

Bhavya for the first time initiated a conversation and asked if Phebega could help her create an email id. So Phebega helped her and Bhavya tried sending her a few emails and chat messages. She didn’t want Phebega to see while she was typing. She was shy. But then, she started exchanging emails while Phebega was there. Through one of the emails, she said that she will try to talk more next time and play UNO with Phebega next week.

Feedback/Validation/Suggestions from the Group

  • It’s nice that Phebega gave Bhavya that space to be comfortable the way she is despite being shy and didn’t speak much. Phebega’s plan to use some activity to break the ice was certainly helpful. Playing UNO and helping her create an email account was a good way to allow Bhavya to engage with Phebega without feeling the pressure to open up.
  • Its great to see some progress and an interest from Bhavya to stay in touch with Phebega even through her exams and seek her opinion. She seems to value her time with Phebega and starts to see her as a friend. The phone conversation seemed to make it easier for Bhavya to open up than in person.
  • Phebega has helped Bhavya gradually open up through some validation about
    • Her exams and trouble with certain subjects.
    • Her desire to spend time and visit her older sister and not liking the fact that her parents would not let her travel on her own. 
  • Phebega can certainly try more activities to help Bhavya open up.
  • Maybe at some later point she will be ready to talk about the situation at home and her wanting to spend more time with her sister rather than at home.


Emal mentors Sarah, a 16 year old who lives in a slum in Austin Town in Bangalore.

Sarah was pursuing her PUC in commerce and was a few weeks from her first year final exams when she met Emal. They have been in touch for 3 months now.

Initially she had assumed that Emal would now help with tutoring support for some subjects. But then Emal explained how she can help and be more like a friend she can talk to and be a mentor.

They talked about her friends and family and Emal shared the same. She was interested in knowing more about Emal and always asked what she did with the friends in the weekend or update about her family. They also talk about movies and favorite actors or actresses.

Sarah likes reading Kannada books and watching movies.

While her exams were on, Emal stayed in touch on the phone.

Emal noticed that Sarah’s uncle helped and supported her for her education. Sarah shared her apprehensions about what she could do after her PUC as she may need to shift to an English medium course or college. She had done most of her schooling and PUC in Kannada and was afraid how she would manage. One of her friends had tried the same and struggled to clear her exams. Emal mentioned there are probably options to do a college degree in the local language or to options to improve English.

Sarah shared that she wants to work in a bank. She currently works part-time at a supermarket in Koramangala for the summer holidays.

Emal was a bit shocked when Sarah once casually said that one of her hobbies is fighting. Emal was not sure what this meant. Another time, when they were discussing actors, Sarah mentioned she liked Darshan. Emal said she didn’t like him because of the news reports of him abusing his wife. Sarah however defended one of her favourite actors and suggested that perhaps the wife did something wrong. Emal was a little disturbed and wondered if something similar goes on Sarah’s life or her where she lives. But she didn’t probe further.

Emal felt that she hadn’t been able to meet Sarah as often as she should have since she had some work and Sarah had her exams in between. But she plans to make up for it this month.

Feedback/Validation/Suggestions from the Group

  • It’s good to see that a lot of casual conversation around interest areas allowed Sarah to open up. Emal talking about her friends and family and movies must have allowed her to also share about her friends and family and interest in movies and also relate to Emal more as a friend.
  • Sarah seems very comfortable with Emal and was able to share her apprehensions about what would happen once she finishes PUC and her challenge with English. Emal would have certainly offered some validation here and maybe that helped her open up about this.
  • As Emal mentioned there are probably options to do a college degree in the local language or to options to improve English. Maybe Emal could share some information or ideas around this.
  • It was probably a bit surprising or disturbing to hear Sarah say her hobby was fighting and her siding the Kannada actor Darshan who abused his wife. Most of us would be a bit surprised. It’s understandable that one would worry that maybe she is exposed to something similar in daily life. But maybe we should wait for more information in future conversations to really understand what she meant. Maybe clarify again later what she meant by fighting.
  • Its possible Emal feels bad she hasn’t spent time enough time with Sarah. Probably the exams and the work commitments made it difficult. But its good that things are back on track and Emal will be making up for it this month.

* Once a month or in two months, mentor meetings are organised by Dream A Dream. The Reflective Practice Session is a forum to share learnings/notes and seek feedback/suggestions or discuss challenges mentors are facing with fellow mentors. Its also an opportunity for mentors to re-visit and practice some mentoring skills - validation & formulation.

** Names of mentees or young people have been changed to protect their identity and maintain anonymity.


  1. Dear Mentors and Jeeno,

    Wow! What a lot of fantsatic work going on and great people are coming to Reflective Practice! We can see a range of issues developing, including some mentees who seem who doesn't find it at all easy to connect.......a couple who have big issues on the horizon, such as leaving the orphanage or possible violence at home........our advice right now is just to hang on in there, believe in yourself and your mentee and be sure you'll need those skills soon!!

  2. Jeeno,

    You have captured a lot Jeeno, that too on skype and being your mother not well. Personally it has been a wonderful learning experience listening to each other's experiences, the way the situations have been dealt. I am glad that mine is not as difficult as that of Vishal. Having said that, I feel this gives us more options to look into and find ways to cope with these. As you rightly pointed out, I took advantage of our common interest in Cricket and this helped to break the ice early and now we have become so close, that my Mentee shares all his feelings freely. I would say this new experience of being a Mentor to some young adult looks so exciting reminded me my own struggles at that age.