For the last six months, Kofi Darku has mentored Congolese teens Aron and Simon as part of our Youth Mentor program. The program pairs youth ages 13 – 23 with an adult mentor who serves as a positive role model and guide to a new culture. It also includes monthly group activities for mentors and their mentees to learn and have fun together.
Kofi was especially drawn to the program because it offered a chance to help African teenagers. As the American-born son of Ghanaian immigrants, he understands what it is like to balance the expectations of two cultures. “I understand the American context and the African context,” he explained. “I felt like I could comfort their parents with my story.”
Together, the trio has played soccer, visited the library, worked on homework, practiced for the driver’s test, changed the oil in a car, and scaled the rock wall at Zip City. Completing the FAFSA application for college is next on their list. “They have a driving aspiration for jobs. I ask them, ‘If you want to go to college, what do you need to do?’ I want to make sure they have some basic resources as young men trying to navigate opportunities,” Kofi said.
The teens have enjoyed spending time with Kofi and participating in the program’s group activities with other refugee teens. “We are learning together how to live in a new country,” Aron said. “It’s good to have leaders who have been here a long time. We learn a lot from him.”
For Kofi, he is grateful for the opportunity to be a resource for the teens and their family. “Life is hard as you transition from teen to adult. It’s very enriching to help these young men navigate into manhood in a way that they see they have options.”
What advice would Kofi give to other individuals thinking about becoming a mentor? “The boys may be quiet. Think about routine questions to get them to open up to you. Also, try to be a part of the group activities with Exodus to get them to open up.”
We are so grateful to Kofi and all of our mentors. Would you like to make a difference in the life of a refugee youth? Sign Up to be a Youth Mentor today!