June – Learning Through Magazines

6 07 2011

This month’s post was written by Flo and Ammar,  volunteers from England who have come with the organisation Skillshare to help with Swaziland Teen Club for 3 months. Here is their account…

The day began 6am, with the alarm going off and then excitement building up. Since arriving in Swaziland almost a week ago as new volunteers, the much anticipated visit to the Teen Club had finally arrived. We were excited to see that most of the activities were run by the Peer Leaders.
The lesson for the week was ‘Pathology’. The lesson started off with the game called ‘HIV Attacks’ where the teens learned about how the immune system works and also how it can be challenged by germs and the HIV virus but helped by the ARVs. The kids really enjoyed this game and it was great to see how through a fun and interactive game, they were able to realise the importance of taking their ARVs. This was followed by a comic book script, produced by an English organisation called Medikidz, which centred on a main character named Matt who was HIV positive and needed to know more about how he can strengthen his body against HIV. This re-emphasised the significance of taking the ARVs, a fact that the Teens were already aware of.

Reading the Magazines donated by Medikidz

At first, we felt a bit disappointed that we did not take much of an active role within the Teens activities. This however proved to be a minor issue, due to the pleasant fact that within the groups there were Teen Leaders who took charge with such passion and determination, which meant that we could offer background support. The leadership skills that the Teen leaders showed and the respect that their peers had for them were incredible. It was nice to think that the skills that these Teen Leaders had gained would set them up to succeed in whatever they choose to do in the future and inspire all those around them. Letting the teens lead their peers is what sustainability is really about and we can easily say that 2 years from now, for example, the Teen Club will be stronger than ever.
The Teen Club gave us a real “WOW” factor; this club was inspirational in all aspects. Through empowering youth this gives the nation a bright future. The next generation will be more informed and better educated; in turn this will increase awareness and allow Swaziland to emerge from the dire HIV situation it is in. We passionately believe that these youths want the best for the future of the Swazis, and that one day they will emerge victorious.

Reading together

By Ammar and Florence




The following post was written by Jenny Shaw,  another Skillshare volunteer from England. Here is her account…

It’s JUNE; New UK Skillshare Volunteers meet Swaziland Teen Club…

Well it has been six weeks since we arrived in Swaziland at Matsapha Airport on a sunny winter’s day and welcomed by the Skillshare Swaziland Office, and five weeks since we started placement at Swaziland’s Baylor Clinic and Teen Clubs. We’ve visited all the teens at Siphofaneni, Hlatikhulu, Manzini and Mbabane and have enjoyed June and July’s Teen activities focusing on Pathology and Adherence, led by volunteers and spectacularly inspiring teen leaders!

We crawled out of bed unenthusiastically into the winter mornings cold sunshine sound in the knowledge that we had a whole day with the Teens of Swaziland Teen Club to look forward to. It was June so the Teen Clubs have been looking at Pathology with the Medikidz comic books and they’ve been learning all about the human body; how the immune system works; how medication can help fight the virus whilst it’s inside our body; and what to do if we’re feeling run down – there is expert support and medicine to help the fight against HIV inside our bodies, and that that’s exactly what Teen Club and Baylor are here for.

When we arrive at the Teen Clubs, the kids are already there bright and early and as one teen after another arrive to check-in and register the volunteers are wishing they could all play games outside together in the sunshine! We have some new Teens – Yey! I am so happy to meet newcomers like me, so I tell them it’s my first time at Teen Club and even though I’m a volunteer they teach me all the words to their theme tune “The World’s Greatest” at the end of the day ~ These kids really are the world’s greatest! 🙂

We say prayers and think about the rules of Teen Club that really make it a special place for all teens to be and forge friendships together. In Manzini there are so many Teens all here to learn and have fun, the Baylor Satellite Clinic reception is bursting with children raising spirits singing prayers together. There’s an atmosphere of anticipation that can only be understood if you come and introduce yourself to the exciting force of the Swaziland Teen Club members and the teen leaders who inspire the younger children to be brave and embrace how good life can stilll be living with HIV whilst adhering to the ARTs medication and advice that keep their immune systems strong.

In Siphofaneni, we played the Human versus HIV game with all the kids and there were balls flying everywhere! The idea of the game is to work together to identify which elements of ARTs fight the HIV in the body, and how! Each of the kids take on a role and pummel the HIV with the balls (representing the ARVs) to keep it from attacking the immune system and therefore the body. There a lots more younger kids at Siphofaneni but they still won, and one battle in the war against HIV prevalence was played out, with I hope not too much bruising! All the kids imagined their own super-hero with particular powers to combat HIV and life issues – my favourite was the one with protective goggles and ART super-spraying arms to fend off and deal with problem germ attacks!