I got a call today from a young girl. Not so young anymore because she is already at university. She said she got my number from my mum and just wanted to tell me ‘thank you’.
I once mentioned that my mum ran an MK (Missionary Kids’) school. While I was at home, I started a mentoring programme, sort of, for the girls in their final years. I don’t know, it is not that I wanted to teach them or anything like that, but I had experienced life on the university campus and I wanted a forum where they could be free to ask questions about anything from sex to studies. I started that for a reason.
The school has a tradition of organising a 3-day retreat for the graduating class. This was held three days before graduation, away from the school premises. I was usually one of the facilitators. Each graduating set was different. Some genuinely wanted to learn and asked relevant questions; some felt, in the way of most teenagers, that there was nothing they could be taught about life; others yet, were just plain not interested. This particular girl belonged to the last group. We tried to get them to ask questions but they were all mute. Ok. So did they not have fears and apprehensions about university life and all that? Nothing. After observing for a while, I requested that their Principal (my mum) and the rest of the faculty members be absent from further sessions. They did not like it, but they went with it. My friend was spending the vacation with me then so I asked her to join us.
She, at least, had lived what they like to term life. While a freshman and even a sophomore, she had been a wild party girl, so she was not tripped by anything. I had lived my own life but not so anyone would notice. I had a way of catching my fun and having my escapades in private; only my real friends numbered 2 ever knew what I was up to. But I digress.
Back to these kids; we took another tack. Instead of waiting for them to ask questions, we began to talk. I distinctly remember telling them to use protection if they were going to have sex. I explained to them why it was better to wait before having sex, but I also acknowledged the fact that for some, what I was saying was going in one ear and out the other and so for these ones, because of the prevalence of the HIV/AIDS virus out there, they should please, please use protection. (I tormented myself later on about whether I had done the right thing. If my mum had heard she would have had an apoplexy…still, I don’t think I would do it any other way).
Well, this evening I got a call from one of those silent kids. She said our talk really helped her. That she did not believe how real what we (my friend and I) were saying was until she got to campus and everything just came back. She remembered so much of what we’d said that day. That was three or four years ago.
I can’t believe how humbled I feel. It is amazing to hear stuff like that especially when you do not feel as though you are making a difference. It made my day. I can only hope that it was not the talk on sex that she found so useful. . .