Sunday, August 16, 2009

Cross-Sector Training

On the mountains of truth you can never climb in vain: either you will reach a point higher up today, or you will be training your powers so that you will be able to climb higher tomorrow. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
Triple post day! Please don't forget to read 'em all ;)

The purpose of having more training is so that it can be applied right? I mean we are all life-long learners. Who ever said that life-long learning only applies to school-related topics? No one, I hope.

This past week we had a cross-sector training in the gorgeous town of Mombasa. The focus of the workshop was HIV/AIDS.

The workshop was held at a Sea Lodge, which, as the name implies, gave us the opportunity to enjoy the beach and the beautiful Indian Ocean during the evenings following the workshop sessions.

We began on Sunday morning with Kiswahili language (I am still looking forward to learning Somali next month). We got to chose the language groups we were in so I chose to learn further from Sam. Now Sam had worked with me, Gavin, Leah, and Pat earlier this year when Leah hosted a Kiswahili language workshop at her site so I was thrilled to continue my learning from Sam. The language continued through Monday.

For those of you who follow me on Facbeook, you may have seen a status update during this week that said something along the lines of "Daniel has been officially renamed Abdul by the Peace Corps staff." The reason for that status update is because during the week long workshop, after the sessions, I would proudly wear my Kikoi and I was also wearing a small kofia (hat) to fully represent my community. I'm hoping to be able to upload pictures of me wearing both the Kikoi and the kofia to my Picasa Web album in the near future. [For the mean time, you can look at other photos of my life in Kenya on my Picasa Web album found at ]

Aside from just Peace Corps Volunteers, we were also joined by several counterparts and supervisors from our respective communities. Not all PCVs were able to bring a counterpart or supervisor, but I feel the group was a good mixture nonetheless. I was able to attend the workshop with my counterpart Timothy.

During the week's activities we had different sessions and discussions to learn about HIV/AIDS in Kenya. We talked about statistics, we learned about prevention, and we had some great discussions on various topics.

Particular emphasis was given to Mother-to-Child transmission (MTCT) during the first session. Once we learned about MTCT, the real fun began. The session we had on MTCT was in the form of a traditional presentation - one presenter leading the discussion on MTCT.
Aside that presentation, it seemed to me that the rest of it all was much more focused on group discussions without a rigid structure as the aforementioned presentation.

On one of the training days, we learned to play different games which aim at HIV/AIDS education. Such games will certainly come in handy during large events such as the Agricultural Show of Kenya that recently passed and the World AIDS Day celebration in December.

On another day, we had the opportunity to come up with discussion topics and our group broke up into smaller groups to discuss such topics as the impact of religion on the perception of HIV/AIDS, information and communition technology in relation to HIV/AIDS education and prevention, and discussions on effective counseling techniques.

On another day, we had the chance to travel from the sea lodge to Mombasa town to visit one of two locations: a Mombasa youth VCT center and Kamara. At MYCC, where I went, we recieved a tour of the facility and also discussed ways to involve the youth to not only know their status, but also to make the correct decisions to prevent the spread of HIV. The rest of the group got a chance to visit the office of Kamara - an NGO that helps educational institutions with computers.

On top of the training, we had a chance to visit with other PCVs we had not seen in some time. We also had the opportunity to have som fun (on top of the games we played learnin about HIV/AIDS). Every day the sea lodge had beach volley ball at 5pm as well as having free time to swim in the Indian ocean or one of the two pools at the lodge.

Best of all I think was the people that were there. It was certianly nice to have the Indian ocean just there to enjoy it after the workshop sessions. Even still, I think it was the group that made the workshop worthwhile and not the location per se.

Now I'm back at site and I'm going to have several meetings during this week to see what ideas can be implemented at my site and how.

The purpose of training is not to store knowledge, but to share/apply it in the most effective way.

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