I finally got a chance to lead part of a training while with Ben and Douglas at a multinational automotive company Tuesday and Wednesday. We spent both days training a group of 25-27 employees coming from various departments from the plant where we were training and another one about 40 kilometers away. We were supposed to have around 50 people to train as peer educators but for a variety of reasons ended up with a smaller group which is unfortunate as it means that less people will feel the impact of the training we were doing and will continue next week. Normally the peer educator training is done over a six day period with a seventh day for written exams, presentations and other activities to test the knowledge, confidence and ability of the peer educators so that they can receive certification before beginning their work as peer educators in their places of employment, communities, families and more. Our training will be done over four days with the fifth day being our exam and presentation day.
Peer educators are not just trained in HIV/AIDS (which is more properly referred to as HIV and AIDS so as not to further confuse and conflate the two as being one in the same) like we are doing at ETC but also trained to provide other information to their peers. The definition for peer educator that we use is “someone who is trained to inform his/her peers about a particular subject so that they can make informed decisions about the subject”. We focus mainly on HIV and AIDS, related diseases, the varied socio-economic conditions that people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) find themselves in, how HIV and AIDS plays a role in the lives of those who are infected as well as affected by it and many more important topics related to HIV and AIDS.
The idea is for those that go through the peer educator training with us to share the information they have learned with their coworkers, families, churches, etc. and to be a positive influence for change in the lives of others. We don’t want them to keep this information to themselves or just better those in their close circle of friends and family but to be open and willing to share with anyone at anytime. A key distinction to make is that during this particular training we are not training peer counselors. We do offer a 10-15 day course for those who want to be trained as peer counselors but do not cover all the necessary skills for this in our peer educator course.
One of the biggest components of the training that we do and the work that these peer educators will be doing after being trained is behavior change. They first must go through a change in behavior (if they are still practicing unsafe sex, living a risky life, etc.) and then encourage the same in others. We are not out to change cultural or traditional practices (unless these create unsafe situations) but rather to get people to better realize the impact of the various decisions they make and be more responsible with their lives and the lives of others. It is important for each individual to take responsibility for their own actions and to see how what they do can and affect others. In a future blog I will discuss behavior change in more depth and detail as it is one of the components of the work that we do that I find the most interesting and crucial.
There are 12 modules plus the assessment (exams, presentation, etc.) that make up our peer educator training. I spent most of the time with Doug’s training group and near the end of the first day I began facilitating Module 3. This module includes defining health and disease, discussing the four components (bio, psycho, socio/spiritual) that make up the whole human being, discussing the nine foundations of health and talking about germs and how they get into the body. Due to limited time I wasn’t able to cover all of this at the end of the first day and thus concluded on Wednesday. The module took about 105 minutes from start to finish and went well considering that this was my first time training for ETC. I enjoyed participating in the training with the rest of those who were going through it but it was nice to finally be up in front leading discussions, sharing information and facilitating learning. I am looking forward to facilitating two or three other modules next week when we return for further training. I will definitely have more to share on this specific experience after next week.
A final thought is that it was good to have Doug there to lend support as my medical knowledge and history is very limited and thus certain questions were beyond my realm of experience and Doug was able to help. It is challenging and interesting to be involved in this work as a Christian Scientist but I think it can be rewarding as well. I will also return to this topic in future blog entries. Have a great weekend.