SOS Children’s Villages: Mentoring in Madagascar
Someone born in Madagascar, an island in the Indian Ocean off the eastern coast of southern Africa, has a strong chance to lead a life of poverty. The island nation is one of the poorest countries in the world. Good jobs with social benefits are rare and difficult living conditions cause much hardship, especially among children. Orphans are at even greater risk. Flying its GoTeach banner, the company-wide program to promote education, Deutsche Post DHL joined forces with SOS Children’s Villages, an international organization that provides a home, care, education and health for children at risk. In Madagascar, SOS Children’s Villages runs 20 programs in Madagascar and reaches around 4,400 children and youth. The organization’s most important goal is to offer them a family setting and a fair chance at life.
The partnership began when Mamy Rakotondraibe, Head of DHL Express Madagascar, and Faneva Raharimanantsoa, responsible for communication at SOS Children’s Villages Madagascar, crossed paths at a meeting of the Chamber of Commerce in Antananarivo, the country’s capital. SOS Children’s Villages was looking for a partner. Financial resources were limited, but DHL Madagascar offered an equally valuable resource: the knowledge and experience of its workforce.
“When life is neither kind nor generous and you face the decision to continue your education or drop out of school, school isn’t the most attractive option. Unemployment is very high and 70% of the population live on less than US$5 a day. We’re only a small workforce here in Madagascar, but we’re trying to change the lives of a small group of young people every year, and this since 2010. That’s only a few out of 20 million. If we’ve inspired just one to battle hard for a better world based on the values we have shared, they could be the person the country needs to accelerate development in the future,” says Irina. “My best moment was taking the kids to visit Air Madagascar, our local airline. They’d never seen a plane, nor had the opportunity to experience what it’s like to be a passenger.”
Under the agreement, four to five employees share responsibility for mentoring a young person over a 10-month period, giving them first-hand impressions of their daily work. This gives mentees an insight into the working world and the motivation to develop their knowledge and skills. The DHL employees benefit from the experience of acting as role models. The local partnership involves some 90% of Group employees in Madagascar, from senior managers to warehouse workers. The commitment they show in sharing time, passing on knowledge and teaching skills is invaluable.