Lifeskills Development Camp 2016

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A four day adolescent and youth camp was held by the NdaiZiva Capacity Development from 25 to 28 April 2016. The aim of the camp was to equip young people from Norton with life skills to deal with Sexual Reproductive health and Rights (SRH&R) issues, Gender Based Violence (GBV) and HIV prevention. They were also trained in leadership, spirituality and entrepreneurial skills. 21 girls and 17 boys participated in the youth camp. The boys and girls were drawn from the following schools and the surrounding communities: Vimbayi Primary School; St Eric Primary School; St Eric High School, Vimbayi High School; Sariwe Secondary School; Chitenderano Secondary School.

 

There were 9 Community leaders (8 women and 1 man) who participated in the four days capacity development camp. Some of these were teachers while others were community health promoters. The latter were being trained to support and supervise the youth champions once they had gone through camp in order to ensure rolling out of the program activities through peer education by the YPISA champions.

Participants by Age and Gender

Age in years Female Male Total
10 to 14 4 3 7
15 to 24 17 14 31
25 and above 8 1 9

 

The workshop was funded by SAfAIDS while the NdaiZiva Board donated some of the resources that were used during the camp such as some of the food stuffs, peanut butter making machines, T shirts and clothes. Facilitators were drawn from SAfAIDS and NdaiZiva.

Camp Venue was Pax Park Girl guides’ Association

The venue for the youth camp was carefully selected. It was situated in the middle of a game park where the boys and girls were away from the day to day home and school activities. The only intruders were monkeys that appeared now and again when they smelt the aroma of the food and hoped for an opportunity to feed. The idea was for the boys and girls to achieve maximum focus on self-awareness and concentration on learning in a free environment.

 

The camp was aimed at capacitating Young People Information Services Advocates (YPISA), Health Promoters and guidance and counselling teachers with requisite skills to reduce GBV&HIV as well as develop their life potential through expressive art, drama, poetry, providing spiritual care and career guidance as well as vocational skills vital in poverty reduction. Our objectives for the camp were guided by the program objective 3 as follows:

 

Objective 3: To Enhance  Capacity of young people and OVC (10-24 years) in and out of school and women  to Champion Positive  Gender Norms and Practices that reduce HIV and GBV in Norton.

 

 

 

 

 

Training Activities of the Youth Camp:

  1. Self-care with a focus on personal hygiene and knowing their own body
  2. Relationships, prevention of HIV and GBV and child abuse
  3. Capacitating YPISA champions in SRH&R.
  4. Entrepreneurship, Literacy skills, Career Guidance and managing the environment
  5. Establishing peer education and support clubs
  6. Leadership, counselling and spiritual care
  7. Training youth champions to conduct radio listening clubs with the view to establish at least 6 radio listening clubs.

Methodology and Content

All sessions used participatory and reflective methodologies.

Dance and Recreation

Dance and creative arts were led by a professional facilitator who drew the boys and girls and their facilitators through creative dancing routines that set the tone for bringing both mind and body to the here and now experience. The energy brought to the camp through drumming, shaking rattles, hand clapping, singing and dancing moves created a fun environment for everyone in the camp. The children were able to compose their own songs and dance routines that helped them express themselves and come out of the cocoon of their home situations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scoring Chart

A daily scoring chart was used to manage self-discipline and working in teams. Both girls and boys of the same age groups participated in different activities throughout the day including meal times. The same participants were also observed on how they conducted themselves in the dormitories where they slept, tidying up their sleeping environment, their bathrooms, etc. This helped the participants to work as teams and support each other to be at the right place at the right time and generally help each other. If anyone in the team was out of sync with others the group would lose stars.

 

Health and Hygiene

The health and hygiene session was the initial session after completing the children’s registration and enrolment for the camp on the first day. Girls and boys were divided into three groups by age. Body mapping was used to discuss the physiology of the body and how to care for each part of the body. Discussions around body changes in adolescence brought a lot of giggles from the boys and girls as they struggled to name the external reproductive organs on their bodies. They came up with all sorts of politically correct and socially acceptable names for these. Daily bathing and washing of pants, bras and socks was emphasised. Sanitary towels were made available for girls who needed them during camp. Demonstration of how to use these was made to the girls in their own groups. Girls talked about their sad experience of missing school when they were having menstruation. They feared that they would soil their uniforms because they did not have appropriate sanitary wear. Some used pieces of rags that they washed at night and had issues of where to hang them to dry as they needed privacy. Some had used even paper or double pants but this was not enough. Most declared that it was better to stay at home than being humiliated by the boys when the girls accidentally soil their dresses. This challenge was discussed in a mixed group to bring awareness of menstrual issues to the boys. One boy said to others, ‘If you were a father and this was your daughter, would you keep her from school when she is having her period every month?” The session brought out a number of issues and helped the boys and girls to send to maintain a high standard of hygiene while at camp, a practice they will use to support each other even after camp. Some tooth brushes, toothpaste, hand towels, soap and Vaseline body oil were made available to them.

 

Food and nutrition

The participants went through how to prepare a balanced diet. They brainstormed on foods that give proteins. Most talked about the many types of green vegetables that are seasonal and meats that they know such as beef, chicken and goat meat, pork and some insects that are also seasonal such as beetles, mopani worms. For carbohydrates they talked about sadza our staple food made of maize and millet. They also came up with a list of fruits that they know from the orchard and those from the wild. They were taught that they should aim to have a balanced diet when they prepare a meal. They were taught ways of preparing food that does not destroy food nutrients. Discussions on the tendency to have food such as plain bread and soft drinks which were said to be unbalanced diet that is not healthy.

 

Conditions that result from lack of adequate food and imbalanced diet were also discussed. Complications such a chronic malnutrition leading to stunted growth was common among poor families. Supplements would be required to avert further complications.  Some of the children’s skin showed a lack of vitamins, some were underweight while most were generally small. A large number of children only managed to eat once a day. They felt that this was inadequate but could not afford them.

Gender Based Violence (GBV) and Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR)

This session covered introduction to GBV, SRHR; prevention of GBV, prevention of STI and HIV. The session started with boys and girls brainstorming and capturing ideas on flip chart to encourage spontaneous contributions from all participants. This promoted dialogue and discussion on issues that affect the boys and girls. Gender norms discussions sparked some debate from the participants as they realised that gender norms may disadvantage young girls more than boys in particular because of the gender roles that they were expected to play in society.

Gender norms such as giving preference to the boy child to access education while the girl child remained at home was inhibiting for girls. The idea that some guardians in Norton perceive young girls, even below the age of 16, as potential sources of income is a violation of the girl child’s rights which is detrimental to their wellbeing. Both boys and girls felt strongly against the idea that girls are forced to be commercial sex workers. These are some of the girls and boys comments:

·        Many girls are children during the day but at night they are collected in a van to go and be paraded as commercial sex workers at Appleyard night club.

·        My grandma allows my sister to go out at night but she makes sure I am at home. She herself goes too. She is more interested in the little money my sister brings home.

·        Appleyard has finished our girls.

·        AIDS will never leave Norton!

·        Ana sugar daddy drive around Appleyard picking our sisters up…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

Norton is a dormitory town to Harare and Chegutu. It does not have any industry and most people are poor and struggle to get by with no source of income. It is only 40km from Harare and a few people work in Harare but the majority are either selling wares at the market place or loitering around drinking elicit beer. Most young men and boys are involved in alcohol and drug abuse. Risks of being sexually abused and getting infected with STIs and HIV or getting teenage pregnancies were discussed at length through brainstorming and capturing ideas on a flip chart.

The discussions went on to spell out the steps that anyone who was sexually abused should take. Help was available at the victim friendly unit at the police station. The availability of counselling and post exposure prophylaxis at health facilities to help prevent being infected by HIV was discussed. Once trained in counselling, they will work with their community based health promoters who will be supporting them to carry out peer education and help them develop a link with the local health facilities. The boys and girls will support each other as peers to report the matter to the police with urgency. In fact if anyone touches them on the breasts or genitalia they should report the matter to the police immediately. They were encouraged to build good relationships with responsible adults in their families or communities whom they could report to, as they get trained to become youth champions for the boys and girls in their respective schools and local areas.

 

Group discussions and buzz groups were used to get the children to consult with each other. Most groups were made up of boys and girls of the same age ranges. Occasionally participants were put into same sex groups to promote peer discussions of issues that affect them. The boys and girls discussed how to prevent their vulnerability to GBV. Some of the practices/norms that allow older men (sister’s husband) to touch the girls’ breasts were said to be quite common in Norton. Children reported being asked to go and play outside in order to give time to some of their guardians to have transactional sex with partners. They were concerned that some of these senior women invite the young girls to sex parties. The fear of getting unwanted pregnancies was clear in their discussions and yet a lot of the girls still drop out of school because they become pregnant.

 

The Egg Exercise

The egg exercise was used after the participants had gone through the topics on GBV, sexual reproductive health and rights. An egg was allocated to each child. There were no instructions given on how to keep the egg. On the last day of camp the participants were asked to bring their eggs and give feedback on their experiences after receiving the egg. While most had wrapped the eggs between their clothes and kept them in a spot that is not easily accessible, five had accidentally broken their eggs, a few had their eggs in an egg case, two participants had teamed up to look after their two eggs but one of them was accidentally dropped and was broken. This exercise helped to put into perspective the degree of responsibility that comes with sexual reproductive rights. Most of them felt that it was better to look after themselves and avoid teenage pregnancies as well as protect themselves from getting HIV and STIs.

 

Leadership Qualities and Spiritual Care and Counselling

Children were placed into two groups by age. Meta cards were used during this session to promote self-reflection and sharing of ideas that each participant had considered well thought out. Participants could write in a language that was most comfortable to them. Reference was made to leaders in the bible, lessons drawn from the scriptures and the value of acknowledging our mistakes and find socially acceptable and sustainable ways of moving on to become a good person. The story of the prodigal son was discussed. They saw that he made a bad decision to get what he felt was his entitlement and went very far away to spend it all. Just like a naughty boy, he hides away from those who may reprimand him. Soon he became poor and was reduced to living with pigs. Then he made a life changing decision to go back to his father where he was welcome and he started his life again. The children discussed this story and we all agreed that there are a number of lessons that we could take from this story: It is not how hard you fall that matters but how well you dust yourself off and claim your life back. Even leaders make mistakes but they need to have insight into their problem and pick up the pieces and go.

 

Different letters in the alphabet were allocated to each participant and each had to identify words that means good and make sentences with a positive meaning. They wrote these on the meta cards and shared with others in the group. The idea was to let children learn that leaders should influence others by the positive messages that they carry. Good follows good. As YPISA champions they needed to be ahead of others in finding relevant information about GBV, SRHR and counselling as well as referral to services. They should not be judges like the brother of the prodigal son because that is how stigma and discrimination starts.

Leadership, like counselling does not require someone who talks too much but a person who is a visionary, good listener, empathetic, resourceful and has knowledge about the discipline that they work in, just like the father of the prodigal son. Children were asked to analyse a picture that depicted the above qualities. They continued to brainstorm on leadership qualities that they should have and will develop through YPISA champions in the community and school. The children learnt that there was value in acknowledging life experiences, both considered as successes and as challenges and embrace them in order to aspired to be a better person and a leader of the future.

Radio Listening Clubs

The boys and girls were gathered in the age range groups to listen to a skit that displayed a GBV. The boys and girls listened attentively and they had a chance to discuss this led by a facilitator. This would be the same way they would use these radios and skits during the radio listening clubs or to spark discussion even on a bus or other public places where a group of people are together for a while.

 

The Journey of My Life

The facilitator introduced the journey of my life exercise by sharing the experiences that he went through in school. He captured their attention and they all sat attentively. At the end they were asked if they had questions. It was quite clear that this was a story that required empathy from the parents and teachers as the facilitator related to this story of managing many expectations when he when he was too young to cope. While the discussions were going on it was apparent how some of the children identified with the facilitator’s story. A girl raised her hand and asked if she could share. Hers was a very touching story of how her father abandoned her mum and left her with two children to look after. The mother later left for SA in pursuit of greener pastures. The girl was left behind with her elder sister. At 11 years of age she made attempts to find her father but when she visited him he did not want to know her. She was confused and gradually sank into depression and ended up in hospital. She had her first ‘crush’ on the male doctor who showed all understanding and helped her to see the light again. At 14 years she thought if there are men like the good doctor who cared for her then her father could not be so bad. She then decided to make another attempt to reconcile with her dad but this time he told her that she was a mistake and should not ever bother him again. Since then she hates men and has been involved in fist fights at school to the extent that her sister no longer allows her to talk to boys because she transfers her anger to them. However, she believes she is a good person and aspires to be a doctor. She vowed not to seek reconciliation with her dad ever but says that her experience had made her stronger and knows where she stands with him.

 

At the end of the workshop the children were asked to evaluate their camp experience. They were also given a chance to score for each other as groups or teams. At the end of it they were all winners as the marks seemed to even out by the end of the workshop. They were asked to give feedback on each session. They wrote on sheets of paper and posted these in a ‘post box’ that was devised for this purpose.

Each child was given time to write the journey of their life and hand over to the facilitators when they were done. These last sessions were emotional for the children and for the facilitators. One boy aged 15 raised his hand and asked to give his testimony.

When I came to camp I was not sure what to expect. I kept thinking about my mum and her little child. My first night I went to bed but experienced a nightmare. In my dream I saw my little sister whom I never saw in real life but my mum had told me stories about her. She died when she was six months but my mum keeps telling me that she looked like me. There she was inviting me to come with her. I told her but you are dead and I am alive but she kept coming. I was running away when I was woken up. One of the facilitators calmly talked to me and asked me if I was OK. I told him about my dream and when I was done he asked if we could pray together and we did. I took my bible and placed it on my pillow and fell asleep. This to me was the power of prayer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the time he finished everyone was quiet with empathy. One of the facilitators explained that it is possible that he has internalised what his mum keeps telling him but he is a child and may not be sure how to handle this. He needed to bring closure. The facilitator explained that some people or families organise to put flowers by the grave side of their beloved ones now and again and pray, while others visit the cemetery and say a prayer. It shows that their deceased are part of them in spirit. He was encouraged to talk about it when he got home. He will get support from the NdaiZiva counsellor.

It was clear that most of the children had gone through or were still going through a lot of issues. One girl asked if she could recite her poem which she had written during camp:

Go away sugar daddy, go away

Have you ever heard, heard about HIV, about an HIV free generation

Sugar daddy, go away, do not fool the girls with your money

Sugar mummy, go away, do not fool boys with your sweets

We want our freedom. Freedom to be children, freedom from disease

HIV, HIV, HIV, STIs! Our worst enemies! You stole our mothers and fathers

You and me we have work to do. Let us talk to NdaiZiva for help, our teachers, our nurses, our health promoters

For we are YPISAs. Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In deed this was an example of a child who had internalised what she had learnt. She could speak up and was assertive and confident with her ideas. With more practice and capacity building, the girls and boys would become very resourceful in their communities as YPISA champions.

Career Guidance

The boys and girls were divided into groups by the same age range and were led in discussing their career aspirations. Discussions on the subjects that they took in school and how best they excelled made it easier to choose a career. It was clear that a lot of them lacked confidence of seeing themselves as a professional or someone who could earn a living through education. The participants come from poor households with only three children out of the 39 participants having passed ‘A’ level well. Two had ten points while the third had 13 points and all of them had not afforded to collect their examination results because they did not did not have the money. In fact they owed the schools some fees that they could not pay. At that point the participants were asked to brainstorm possible ways of earning a living using the environment. They were taught environment conservation and eco dependent ways of earning a living through small agricultural projects. This would be possible if they formed clubs.

 

Peanut Butter Making

 

 

One example of a practical skill with instant high yield result was peanut butter making. The boys and girls were trained to roast the nuts, clean them and get them ready for grinding. All of them were taught and shown the hygiene standards associated with making peanut butter as well how to handle and operate the manual peanut butter machine. This portable manual machine only cost USD100. All participants took turns to make peanut butter. They participated in selecting the nuts and roasting them. They were taught how to prepare the nuts and make them ready for grinding in the machine. The facilitators used a manual peanut butter maker to demonstrate how to grind the nuts and produce peanut butter. The boys and girls then took turns to make the peanut butter. By the end of the day they had produced more than forty bottles of peanut butter. Each bottle costs an average of one dollar. The children were excited to take a bottle of peanut butter home on the last day of camp and each took a bottle of peanut butter home. They had acquired a skill to produce peanut butter. They agreed that this was one of the projects that they would take on as a club when they got back home.

The participants were taught how to prepare a budget for a project such as the peanut butter making. That included costing the empty bottles that are bought in bulk, the peanuts, and the machine. The importance of being able to read, write and being financial literate in doing business was emphasised. Literacy sets apart successful entrepreneurs as they can carry out a market research and document available options, present a business proposal as well as count money. They would be at an advantage when it comes to using modern day technology. They would form clubs and identify small viable projects for income generation.

Conclusion

The four days of camp went too fast. All the objectives were met. The atmosphere was vibrant with the high level of participation by the children. Some children who came to camp rather reserved were able to lead group activities by the end of the camp. They came out of camp better skilled as leaders, the YPISA champions. All of them asked if they could come again to camp. The camp graduates will form clubs with a membership of at least 5 boys and girls at their schools. The community health promoters will work with them in the projects that they identify. They will be able to collect data as a way of monitoring the activities for SRHR, GBV, HIV and livelihoods projects in the communities. More camps will be carried out in due course in line with the NdaiZiva’s co-values of developing all rounded young persons learning about GBV, SRHR, HIV, career guidance, leadership, vocational skills and entrepreneurial skills development.

 

Just before they left all participants received some presents that had been donated by friends of NdaiZiva some from Zimbabwe and abroad. Some of these gifts were new pants for girls, cloths, deodorants, toothbrushes and toothpaste. The girls and boys were grateful and looked forward to be better young leaders in their communities. Follow up support will be done by NdaiZiva, the teachers and health promoters who were part of the youth camp training.

 

 

 

 

 

Annex 1

Camp Program

Subject Content Comment
  • Health and hygiene – physical & mental fitness
Personal Hygiene, Cleanliness, Mental fitness , Positive Self talk, Self-esteem, Diet, Healthy Habits, Obesity, Exercise  
  • Reproductive Health & HIV; Radio listening clubs
SRH&R, Rights and responsibilities, Information dissemination, HIV Young people’s dilemma, transmission, prevention, treatment, care, support emphasizing 90-90-90, teen pregnancy-risks, early marriage, Youth friendly services, establishing support groups for young people, peer education, establishing radio listening clubs  
  • GBV & Institutions of Gender
Forms of GBV ,Gender norms and practices, Cultural practices which perpetuate GBV Causes, Child pledging, Forced marriages, VFU, Prevention and support  
  • Expression through Theatre, Drama, Poetry, and Dance
Edutainment, theatre, poetry, drama

 

 
  • Literacy, reading
Developing a reading culture among young people, the difference between reading and study, reading clubs  
  • My project – Vocational skills and career guidance
Choosing a career, At  what stage does one need to choose a career, requirements, Vocational skills  
  • Spiritual care and counselling
Spirituality, Spiritual Care, Purpose, effect, Lifestyle counselling, Risky behaviours, dealing with drug and alcohol abuse,