Friday, February 8, 2013

GLOW TOT (Training of Trainers)

January 15th-19th, 2013

GLOW Swaziland is in full swing.  For the past few months the GLOW team(made up of PCVs) has been planning, organizing, and coordinating a five day TOT (Training of Trainers) for Swazi woman who have shown interest in helping us get GLOW clubs started in the rural parts of Swaziland.

It took a lot of work, but we managed to successfully gather 27 Swazi women between the ages of 18-30 and trained them in topics surrounding reproductive health, goal setting, volunteerism, body image, and leadership.  We met for five days at a backpackers that we rented out the entire facility.  Everyday the PCV GLOW team led these educational sessions that the Swazi women participated in.  The sessions that I taught were condom demonstrations and contraceptives, and leadership.  For contraceptives I organized two HIV counselors who work at my local clinic to come and give a presentation to the ladies on the variety of contraceptives available in Swaziland.  Surprisingly there is a large range of contraceptive options (male and female condoms, birth control pills, patches, injections, and implants), however thanks to a high stigma and a culture that doesn’t favor talking about sex or safe sex to students leaves many women without knowledge about their options.  We really tried to focus not only on educating our Swazi counterparts but training them to be open-minded, approachable, and non-judgmental so girls in their communities feel comfortable coming to them to ask about contraceptive options.

Almost ever photo I have of TOT also has this big black penis in it

Clinic Counselors as work!
Overall the week went off without a hitch.  The Swazi women are fabulous!  It was awesome to spend so much time with women outside of a traditional setting.  They really open up and show their true colors, which is a spectrum of awesomeness.  Hopefully by working together we can bring some of the color out in rural Swaziland, and help women break the cultural barrier they hide behind.  My favorite part of the whole week was an impulsive late night pool party.  Most Swazis do not know how to swim and fear it, however on the last night of TOT a pool party spontaneously started when the counterparts decided to jump in with their clothes on.  Us PCVS quickly followed and we spent on hour teaching these women how to swim.  They trusted us to the max, loved learning a new skill, and really overcame something that is typically thought of as something Swazi’s can’t do.  At one point my counterpart came up to me with the biggest smile and said “Nomsa [a fellow PCV] took me to the deep end.”  She was so happy you would have thought she just won a gold medal. It was defiantly a moment when you remember just why you became a Peace Corps Volunteer.

I had two counterparts with me at TOT.  One was my host sister Nosipho here in Malindza.  She has suffered from many stigmas and hardships many rural Swazi girls face and she wants to help others overcome the same reality and learn that girls can be in control over what happens to them, even after mistakes have been made.  My second counterpart was Linidwe, my host sister from my training host family in Khiza.  I approached her to be involved because she has been asking me of ways she can volunteer in her community, and because in several conversations she has emphasized how important it is to her that she is almost 23 years old, has a high school degree, and does not have a baby – not the reality for most girls in her community.  She hopes she is a role model for other girls and through GLOW I think she can, as well as Nosipho can, make a big difference.

Nosipho, Me, and Lindiwe
Next step is that all our Swazi counterparts and us PCVs will work together over the next 4 months to establish GLOW clubs in our communities.  From these clubs we will eventually select a few girls from each club to attend a week long GLOW CAMP in April.  At the camp out counterparts will be co-teaching along side the PCVs, expanding the knowledge and girl power!

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