[When] I was given a mentee…this grand opportunity was bestowed upon me to influence the life of someone. Paul* my mentee is a young man who has a love for music. He writes songs and enjoys performing them. Personally, I am not a fan of dancehall music, but through my interaction with Paul, I have developed an appreciation for the genre. I would often ask Paul about his inspiration for writing, and his story would always connect us in a unique way. His story allowed me to appreciate his music and what it means to him. While I am still not a fan of the genre, I have learnt to appreciate it. In fact, one of Paul’s songs that resonates with me is ‘Living the Life I Live Today’. This song has been a motivation to me in so many ways. It has encouraged me to enjoy the life which I live today, as I pursue my career and go about my personal life.
On another note, my professional development has been realised through the training which I received from BACK2LIFE. This phenomenal and profound understanding has transcended all aspects of my life.
All in all, my experience at BACK2LIFE is priceless.
David* – Age 16
I became involved with BACK2LIFE in January 2017 and it feels as if I have been with the programme for years. I think it is because I do enjoy every moment, training, workshops and activities I have been doing since I started. Since becoming involved with the programme, there are several positives that I will be taking away. I will be completing my stay at the Rio Cobre Facility soon and I will ensure that I take the lessons learnt from BACK2LIFE to apply in my life moving forward.
BACK2LIFE means the world to me. There is no other organization/ family I would like to be a part of.
The work we do is second to none. Transforming the lives of young men that society has turned its back on and forgotten is priceless.
I know what it is like not to have a father in my life, like the typical Jamaican home I grew up without a father and life was rather cruel and unforgiving to me. With all of what I went through I vowed to never become a statistic in the country and to spend my life teaching other young men to fight against the status quo. So much so I enrolled in college and did a double degree in theology and guidance and counselling.
While in school I was told of an organization that shared in my dreams and passions of bettering the lives of young men and giving them a meaningful shot at life. I was there at the first recruitment meeting at the Mico University College. One of the best things that happened to me while being at BACK2LIFE was being paired with my own mentee.
I have been mentoring for quite some time now but doing it as a member of BACK2LIFE gives a new dimension to things. I actually feel as if I'm making a difference in the life of a youngster. I'm filled with excitement, purpose, and a burning desire to listen, share and encourage my mentee. The highlight of my Saturday is going to Rio Cobre. Man, I so wish this was like my actual job. This is what I want to spend my life doing; training and building my nation’s future leaders.
Shane* - Age 17
BACK2LIFE has been a wonderful programme for me. Since I have been going every other Saturday it has helped me to be more honest, obedient, humble and diligent etc. This programme is fun, educational, motivational and most of all a rehabilitation project. The mentors that come each week are very conscientious but my mentor Marvin has played a very important role in my life. He treats me like a father and a brother but more that being just a friend or a mentor, Marvin is a funny, smart, loving and caring person to be around. Marvin has inspired me a lot in a positive way. If more men like him lived in Jamaica, the country would be a better place. All I have to say is that if this programme could go to schools, colleges, universities, churches and communities islandwide so that Jamaica would be a better place and more youths would know right from wrong so that they don’t end up in jail or prison.
This BACK2LIFE project will help me to be the man I want to be. I’m grateful for it because it makes me have more hope in myself and my future ahead of me. I have begun seeing more vision and have more belief in myself. The motivation that Marvin has given me will never come out of my head and I thank him and the BACK2LIFE programme very much for all that they have done for me for the past three months. I finally see a way to success. I thank you Marvin again and I wish the good Lord will have mercy on you and continue to bless you and keep up the good work.
I started volunteering with BACK2LIFE in January 2014, and then I decided to get on board as a trained mentor. Before then I had negative views of persons in the correctional institutions because I thought only the worst about them. On my first visit I realized that the juveniles in the centre are wonderful individuals that have lost their way because of their circumstances and are crying out for help and a sense of direction in their lives. Throughout the weeks and months visiting the centre I participated in various sessions on anger management, conflict resolution, skin bleaching, domestic violence, team work, self identity, self love and other important topics. These topics were beneficial to me because I had some negative views about myself and some of the topics discussed. Little did I know that my life would be affected in such a positive way.
There are many things that I am grateful and appreciative for because of my involvement as a trained mentor with the BACK2LIFE project. A few weeks ago while talking to my mentee he asked me if I could become his father because I care about him and I am always there for him. That statement alone encouraged me to look deeper into myself as a person that is working tirelessly to become a better person so that I can help someone else who wants to grow and develop personally. The BACK2LIFE project have influenced my life in so many ways and helped me to see a much bigger picture beyond myself.
Stuart* - Age 16
I started attending the BACK2LIFE programme from June 2016. During that time I have learned many positive things and have also been influenced and motivated by the lessons I have learned. BACK2LIFE has had a great impact on my life and personality. Since I have been participating in the sessions I have become more obedient, and gained more respect and kindness. BACK2LIFE is a great organisation, it influences individuals to take more responsibility for their behaviour and their lives. I have learned to think before I act and to think about the consequences of the act.
I appreciate everything I have gained from the project. I hope I can utilise every positive thing in my life, so that I can become a better man in the future.
I must commend you and the team for an empowering session on Saturday. I really enjoyed it and thought it was time very well spent. The young men at the centre (mentees) are filled with much potential and with continued encouragement they will certainly reach it. I am still very interested in joining the team and look forward to continued correspondence. I hope that I was able to make even a small impact on Saturday during my visit.
Shaun* - aged 17
In September 2015 I entered the Rio Cobre Juvenile Correctional Centre where I was introduced to the BACK2LIFE programme where they paired me with a mentor, Stewy. It took me one year to realise what an extraordinary influence the BACK2LIFE programme had on my life. My mentor and I always had thoughtful discussions about my life. He is the kind of mentor that would always provoke counsel and encouraged me to try and develop high self esteem. He told me that I should always believe in myself no matter what circumstances life may throw at me. I can still become something good in life. Despite the fact that I am in a juvenile institution I have never been treated less than human by any member of the BACK2LIFE team, even though I was very shy and took little or no participation in anything at all.
The group talks, the one on one sessions have pushed me to get involved. “Life doesn’t get better by chance it gets better by change.” As such my personal involvement with BACK2LIFE has influenced my life for the better. I can safely say that I am now a changed person. It is evident in my behaviour, I have been commended by the teachers and correctional officers at the Centre.
My mentor also speaks to me about life outside of the institution, on how difficult things csn get, that I need to study hard and focus on my education, so that I can make something of myself. I know life isn’t easy and I know things can get harder but I’ve made a promise to myself to become a man in society, to live up to the teachings that I’ve received from my mentor.
I’m no longer a bully nor do I get involved in any fights with the other wards. I have developed a high self esteem and now feel a sense of belonging.
I am grateful that I am a part of the BACK2LIFE programme and the positive impact it has had on me. So I want to say a big thank you to the persons from BACK2LIFE especially my mentor for all the motivation that they have given me. I will continue to apply them to my life here and beyond the gates of the Centre.
Community engagement is an undeniably critical part of ensuring that Back2Life Foundation continues to succeed. Whether you’re a public official, teacher, doctor, lawyer or business man, we need your help and involvement.