The AJAN HIV and AIDS Prevention Programme for the Youth (AHAPPY) Training of trainers (TOT) at Arrupe Jesuit University in Harare, Zimbabwe took place on 9th to 12th January 2023 from 8.00am to 1 pm. This training was based on the AJAN’s handbook for integral development of the young people, the AJAN HIV & AIDS Prevention Program for the Youth (AHAPPY Generation). They were three trainers: Ms. Pascalia Sergon, Fr. Ismael Matambura and Ms. Mary Wanjogu.
The Rector, Fr. Munyoro set the tone of the training by giving the context. He explained that Jesuit students in Arrupe college organize workshops before the beginning of the semesters. The preceding workshops being on child safeguarding, they thought of making it different this round by inviting AJAN to share on HIV. In the opening remark, Fr. Munyoro thus invited the students to be more open to the presentations offered, impressing to participants that “It is not much about new information being imparted to us, but it is provoking the mind to continue to reflect on issues on HIV and social realities. I know some of these issues about HIV may seem distant to us, to our situation but it’s still related to us maybe not directly for some people but indirectly through the people we meet who are still struggling with HIV, so it is good to continue to reflect on these matters. But there also other areas the facilitators will discuss touching on development, leadership skills, social skills so I hope they provoke you to pay a closer attention, especially those who are involved in teaching and those preparing for regency. I hope you will find them relevant in your work as well.”
They were about 100 participants present representing about 15 countries across Africa. The first day was encountered with some resistance, the participants already had some preconceived ideas of what the training was about and seemed uninterested. They had been told it was a HIV/AIDS workshop and from that basis they felt they were not going to learn anything knew. However, they began to receive the content and engage more by the second day.
Fr. Matambura kicked off the training by introducing the vision and mission of AJAN, training pedagogy of the AHAPPY program and transited to the first module (Module A), tackling human dimensions. He emphasized the rational of this common Jesuit work in Africa in engaging in the question of Health and youth integral formation. Since we are created in the image and likeness of God (Gn.1,26), each of us has a mission of being and remaining a gift the world and to one another. By the end of his presentations, students were interested to understand how AJAN is run and the basis of their funding. Fr. Matambura answered the questions appropriately.
The afternoon session of the first days as described by the presenter Mary “I felt the block participants had due to the assumption that they knew what we were training on. However, the psychosocial development and emotional scale stood out and it resonated with them. Two students for example came to enquire more on the topic; as well as the questions that followed.” The other session that stood out was the HIV/AIDS session, which brought about a lot of engagement and questions. They were students present who had a medical background that helped a lot on clarifying medical terms especially on the therapy of prophylaxis drug. Group activity lead by Fr. Ismael, on identifying challenges in their communities and the root causes represented in the form of a tree diagram definitely broke the ice and allowed interaction with the content. Some of the issues/challenges that came up were Poverty, Corruption and Prostitution.
The session led by Sergon on statistics on HIV, paying attention to African situation and especially in the southern Africa region; and STIs was eye opening for the students. The facts challenged their held perceptions that ‘HIV is no longer an issue in Africa more so even in the church circles.’ The session provokes critical questions such as ‘why the numbers were so high; whether our interventions are tackling the root causes; what else needs to be done?’. In addition, a discussion on the stand of the church and AJAN came up which was later clarified. AJAN just like the church promotes abstinence. At the end of the session a student participant said “honestly, this session touched me so deeply and personally. I had not connected HIV and its impact in this scale in Africa. I think this is what we needed to hear.”
Van Staden Sean Nicholas a participant said, “It was exciting for me to meet people working in and with this important Jesuit work on our continent. As Jesuits we are invited to become collaborators and journey together with people to build the Kingdom together. The workshop provided an opportunity to build friendships and connections to help us to do this. I also appreciated that the training provides a holistic approach to fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The problem is not merely medical and ethical. It is also psychological, social, spiritual, economic and political. The training explores each of these dimensions and gives us an opportunity to reflect on how each of these areas affect the epidemic and vice versa. I wish the team all the best as they continue their service of the Kingdom.”
Additional session on mindset, mentorship session with a coaching approach as a well as reflection on leadership for social transformation were captivating. All in all, the training was a success. The number was relatively the same all four days showing the interest was maintained. They definitely appreciated that we engaged them and made the sessions interactive. The feedback from some students was positive. They proposed that we should include more icebreakers and have reflection questions after every session. The last day of training participants were called to action by encouraging each one of them to mentor a young person this year.
We highly commend the excellent leadership the students had, they had organized themselves well; each day had a moderator who led the recap session and ensured that timing was observed.
Ms. Pascalia Sergon, AJAN Capacity Building Officer
Ms. Mary Wanjogu, AJAN Training Facilitator
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