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The Mentorship Program celebrates a successful first cycle

On Saturday, March 27th, the Mentorship program officially ended its first cycle of the program with an intimate ceremony at the Tropics Café, hosted by the project coordinators. Mentors, mentees, and parents were in attendance.

The evening kicked off with a warm welcome from Carol Skinner. Mrs. Skinner remarked that she was “beaming with pride at the completion of the project and there is power in the community. Building a solid community should never be seen as a conceptual thought but as an achievable goal. Imagine how much more we can accomplish if the connections and relationships developed through this program continue and filter into the wider community”.

Director of the Saba Comprehensive School, Mr. Anton Hermans, also expressed his pride in the program and the coordinators, Rayann and Carol. for starting such an initiative. Mr. Hermans encouraged the mentors and mentees to check in with each other, even though this cycle of the program has ended, and he reminded the mentees that this should be a two-way street. Mr. Hermans gave the mentee- mentor duo, a gift certificate to encourage them to meet up at some point again.

Pauline Every and Shaniqua Peterson spoke on behalf of the mentors and mentees. The relationship they fostered throughout the six months stands as a great example of a mentoring relationship.

"Today not only marks the ending of the first mentorship pilot program, but we also get to watch our ‘former mentees’ continue in the world wit

h new knowledge, experiences, and memories that we each shared and created with them. I hope the program has a successful continuation for the future and that others would also be interested in joining the program", mentor Pauline Every said.

Mentee Shaniqua Peterson said that the experience was great, and she felt privileged to be part of this pioneering project. “This evening I am confident that I am a better person because of the relationship and support I shared with my mentor for the last six months. I learned a lot from her, which helped me want to be a better student, daughter, and friend. It is my wish that other students get the opportunity to be part of such a program. I hope that we all can look back at some point as a community and see how our island is a better one because of the impact of the Mentorship Program”.

Shaniqua also thanked the Saba Comprehensive School and the Island Government for investing in Saba's youth by supporting programs like these that impact their lives. She thanked the coordinators for their vision and willingness to take a chance on the mentees. And she concluded by telling her fellow mentees that it is now all of their responsibility to do better and be better. "Even

when we fall, we get back up because persons are counting on us and encouraging us to be great," Shaniqua said.

To close off the ceremony, Island Council Member and Mentor Vito Charles paid special recognition to the parents who gave their children consent to participate in this program. He also highlighted that "it takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a lot more, it takes guidance, it takes coaching, it takes mentorship. As a community, we often hold young people to impossibly high standards, and when they do not meet the standards as we adults often do not, we say that they are going down the wrong path. We must be honest with ourselves and with them as a community that mistakes are not just bad; they are inevitable on the journey through life”.

The mentorship program, the first program of its kind within the Dutch Caribbean, is a joint initiative between the Department of Community Development and the Saba Comprehensive School. This initiative was forged out of a collective vision for select students to receive more positive guidance and direction from upstanding adults in the community.

During its first cycle, which began in August 2020, program coordinators Rayann Ramdin of the Public Entity Saba and Carol Skinner of the Saba Comprehensive School recruited 11 mentors and assigned them to 11 mentees. The mentors participated in a 2-day training that prepared them for their roles, and after an orientation mixer that included mentors, mentees, and parents, the program officially began.

During the following six months, the participants engaged in paired mentor- mentee activities, whole group meet-ups, and community projects. The mentors and mentees formed meaningful and lasting relationships with each other, which would hopefully transcend the end of this current cycle.

The program coordinators would like to thank everyone again for making the first cycle successful and anticipate a bright future for the continuation of this program.

Persons wishing to become mentors for the program are encouraged to look out for the dates for the next cycle.

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