SAYes Blog: Mentorship Musings

SAYes Transition Mentoring

A Mentee Dreams of One Day Supporting Higher Ed for Refugees

Lysette and Hayley's mentorship story.

Mentors By SAYes Team, Jul 11, 2018

As we recently mentioned, our goal is to make Mentorship Musings a platform for the incredible stories of the people who make up SAYes Mentoring. The story of Hayley and Lysette from our 2016 programme is the perfect story to start with. Read on to discover how Lysette’s work with her mentor, Hayley, and her overall mentorship journey, inspired her dream of one day creating an organisation that supports young refugee women seeking bursaries for higher education.

We hope you enjoy their story!


When Hayley and Lysette step into the room, the connection between them is instantly palpable. They’re so caught up in jokes and giggles, that it takes some playful effort to get them on track and start the interview.

Lysette is bubbly, with a bright smile and sparkling eyes. You would never guess by looking at her that not so long ago she was battling serious health issues and was hospitalised for months. When asked about her time in the hospital, the first thing she says is, “I was anxious about falling behind in school.” Instantly, her tenacity and academic ambition become crystal clear.

It was during this time that Hayley and Lysette started their mentorship journey through SAYes. Although the circumstances were challenging and unexpected, Hayley, with her get-it-done persona, was the right mentor at the right time. Sure, they would have loved to spend their first meetings as mentor and mentee sipping coffee or walking on the beach, but instead, they spent week after week heads-down on coursework so Lysette could get caught up. While Lysette began to heal, their bond began to form, mostly over their shared affinity for mathematics.

When asked to describe her relationship with Hayley in one word, without skipping a beat, Lysette says, “supportive.”

“When you live in a [children’s] home, there’s a lot of pressure to learn to be independent very quickly,” Lysette says. “Hayley helped me learn to fill those gaps.”

Hayley’s word is “fulfilling.” She talks about how happy she was that Lysette ultimately had a successful school year. But the fulfilment also came from the admiration Hayley developed for Lysette.

“Lysette and her two sisters came to South Africa from Democratic Republic of the Congo when she was only twelve. They’ve had a challenging journey since, yet she continues to excel and persevere.” Hayley looks at Lysette with a warm smile as she speaks, “I’m really proud of her.”

Once the schoolwork scramble passed, Hayley and Lysette were able to enjoy more relaxing times together. They spent Heritage Day on the coast, snacking on fish and chips, had conversations about art (Lysette’s hobby when she’s not studying) with Hayley’s father, and enjoyed long scenic drives together.

They’ve each learned different things from the SAYes programme. For Hayley, an important learning has been about the importance of patience and consistency when building trust. “I usually approach a situation with a new mentee as though I’m simply building a friendship,” she says.

Lysette now applies what she’s learned from Hayley about being a good mentor to her relationship with her younger sister. “I treat her with respect and as an equal,” she says. “I know that if I show my own vulnerability, it will help her open up to me.”

When it comes to her future, Lysette says she hopes to eventually turn her mathematical abilities into a career as an accountant, which also happens to be Hayley’s profession. But there’s more to Lysette’s goal. “When I become super successful, I want to start an organization that helps refugee girls get bursaries,” she beams.

Lysette is reassured knowing that each step of the way, no matter how long it’s been since they’ve spoken, she can turn to Hayley, and Hayley will always have her back.


more from


Cherry Attends the Inaugural SAYes Networking ‘Mixer’

SAYes held its first networking ‘mixer’. I found it to be such a worthwhile event and I know I wasn’t alone - Cherry

Read More

Meet the New SAYes Blog: Mentorship Musings

Stories and insights on youth and mentoring from SAYes. - SAYes Team

Read More