After a five-day training for the youth leaders from the Catholic Diocese of Nakuru, the African Jesuit AIDS Network (AJAN) took the AHAPPY TOT to the neighboring Catholic Diocese of Ngong which took place on the 16th to 20th November 2022 at the Watakatifi Wote Senta, situated at the foot of Ngong hills. The training organized by Fr. Edward Mashua, youth chaplain Catholic Diocese of Ngong brought together 36 participants who are youth leaders from five deaneries of the Catholic Diocese of Ngong: Kilgoris, Kajiado, Ngong, Loitokitok and Narok.
The training was opened officially by Fr. Peter Nganga Youth chaplain, Matasia Parish, Catholic Diocese of Ngong, who welcomed the AJAN team being led by Fr. Ismael Matambura Sj, AJAN Director. With a lot of expectations from the youth, the five-day training addressed key issues affecting the youth from the Catholic Diocese of Ngong, which include; the functions and purpose of the youth in society, enhancing knowledge on ministering to the young people and enabling active participation and discussion on issues affecting the youth. The training provided an environment in which the participants socialized, networked and acquired a different mindset from the one they came with at the start of the training.
Fr. Ismael Matambura Sj started off the training by introducing the participants to the role of the Jesuits in Africa through the works of AJAN in supporting the integral development of the youth through the AHAPPY program that is based on the AHAPPY manual. The youths were taken through Module A; Awakening to Myself where Fr. Ismael Matambura Sj elaborated more on the creation of the human being, their roles and responsibilities on earth and how they are supposed to live in society, he engaged the youth by asking them, “What does it mean when we say we were created in the image of God”. Response from one participant, Bivon was that being created in the image of God meant that we were created to resemble God, and whatever we do on earth should be a reflection of the expectation of God.
The participants were introduced to the human dimensions, where Ms. Samantha Waki, one of the facilitators explained the steps of Psychosocial development, the stage they are in as youths. Topic covered dealt with emotional guidance, handling and resolving conflict they face in their daily life and them as leaders of their youth groups. The participants were given insights on brain development between the male and female gender, the reasons as to why either gender may be superior and inferior when it comes to the thought process.
Day two and three, the participants were taken through Module B of the AHAPPY Training: This World I live, Fr. Ismael Matambura Sj highlighted and elaborated more on the status of HIV and AIDS infections rate in Kenya, Africa and the whole world. The high infection rate in Africa and the need for the youth to take more prevention measures, so as to curb the high transmission of HIV/AIDS. Further discussion ensued when Ms. Mary Wambugu engaged the youth on Module C: Facing a world with HIV and AIDS that covered the myths and misconceptions on HIV/AIDS transmission. Issues on cultural differences, ignorance among the youth, fear of undertaking the HIV and AIDS test or visiting Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) centers, stigma against those living with HIV/AIDS and those who come out openly to share with others their HIV and AIDS status.
Ms. Pascalia Sergon, AJAN Capacity Building Officer took the youth through a session on Sexual transmitted Infections (STIs) how one acquires the diseases. The transmission from one person to another and how the youth can prevent themselves from being infected. The participants were urged to abstain from sex, to stay safe and take care of those who are infected with HIV and AIDS. Discussion ensued on why HIV/AIDS still lacks cure and why it is regarded as the disease of the poor. He urged the participants to take steps in understanding and preserving their African values and positive culture, as the introduction of some of the western cultures in Africa is affecting our effort in curbing HIV and AIDS infections.
The training also covered, Module D: Knowing myself to grow myself and Module E: The foundation on which I build my life. Youths were involved in group discussions, where they presented the root causes of the problems that exist in their communities, causes, effects and suggested solutions. Facilitators engaged the participants through videos, analysis of the current situation in their communities, sharing of personal experiences and creating an understanding of what they are being trained on and what they are going through in their private life. Through partaking in a self-evaluation activity, the participants got the chance to grade their emotional Intelligence.
While sharing her experiences about the AHAPPT TOT, Judith Kakenya 23 years old from Kilgoris parish, Catholic diocese of Ngong says, “The AHAPPY facilitators have done a good job in training us about HIV/AIDS, STIs and drug abuse, at the end of the five-day training I see myself a changed person from this training. Am a new leader bearing all the knowledge I have gained, my perspective about those living with HIV/AIDS and STIs has also changed, personally I used to distance myself from people who are infected with HIV/AIDS but as I come out of this training, I am going to treat those affected with HIV/AIDS the way I treat my family members, with care and compassion and make them feel part of the community am living in. I am going to use the knowledge gained to create awareness in my youth groups back in the parish, educate them on how to live with those affected with the HIV virus, I will let my fellow youth know how one can get infected and train them on the prevention measures to take against the diseases.
On the final day of the training Fr. Ismael Matambura Sj took the youth through values and skills in leadership, their understanding of what leadership entails, how they perceive a leader should be, the subject on who has the power and how a leader should behave, taking interest in their personal values, getting to learn new things through having a growth mindset instead of having a fixed mindset. Ms. Mary Wanjugu challenged the participants to be transformative, and to believe in themselves, that they have the potential to be the change they want to be in society.
As the AHAPPY TOT came to an end, participants were encouraged to be socially entrepreneurial, come up with activities that will be implemented at the deaneries, they were expected to present proposals on the activities to be undertaken that will involve all the youth in their respective parishes. Youth participants were presented with certificates by Fr. Ismael Matambura Sj, for having successfully undertaken the 5-day AHAPPY training of Trainers.
According to Fr. Edward Mashua, his expectations is that the youth leaders from different parishes who attended the 5-day training were going to use the experience and knowledge gained to teach their fellow youths and implement the proposed youth activities at their deaneries. He said, “The AHAPPY Training of trainers was one of a kind, we haven’t had such a training for quite a long-time. The training is a door-opener to many more to come, we will look to integrate more youth onto the AHAPPY program.”
By, Dennis Owuoche
AJAN Communications Officer