September Teen Club: Stress Management and Relief

12 10 2011

After living in Mbabane for just over a week, we (five new Skillshare volunteers from the UK) had seen and experienced the friendly culture, unpredictable weather, and ‘interesting’ local food.  A brief visit to Kaphunga (a rural village) saw us staying in a traditional ‘Beehive hut’ and attending a Zionist church service. Both experiences never to be forgotten!

The highlight of my time here however, has been attending my very first Swaziland Teen Club! Based in Hlatikulu with the topic of ‘Stress Management’, the club had over 70 attendants with ages ranging from 8-18! The Teen Club kicked into life with customary singing, dancing, and a prayer. I was astounded by the energy, enthusiasm, and heart each child seemed to have; it’s hard to think that each of these children was HIV positive in a society which frowned upon the infection.

Manzini Dancing Teens

Most inspiring were the teen leaders, also HIV positive they are only a few years older than the groups they were leading. They were always extremely confident and capable of managing their groups. The sessions they ran focussed predominantly on stress management and different causes of stress, as well as coping tools that could be used. After joining in with some of the sessions, I learnt that some of the children were teased about their status and others felt stressed by the pressure to take their medicines consistently. The leaders dealt with the issues by introducing a variety of methods such as meditation, a concept which the children found hilarious and led to mass laughter!

Darryn leads a session with the teen leaders

After three separate sessions the group met back at the base and rounded up the club by saying a big goodbye to Kim, Teen Club coordinator. After seeing her interactions with the kids, I saw how well received she was and how much of a bond she had made with the children. It was an emotional handover, but I’m sure the new Teen Club coordinator Darryn will be able to live up to the high expectations Kim has set.

Ending with a customary rendition of ‘The World’s Greatest’ complete with dance actions, the children took their packed lunches and were on their way, hopefully de-stressed and at least a little happier than when they arrived.

It was very interesting to see how the small tasks we’d carried out during the week all came together for the Teen Club. The hours spent entering data and editing photos for ID cards were all worth it to see the Teen Club run smoothly.

Next week the location Siphofaneni will see the last of the Stress Management workshops. Attendants to this Teen Club will be fellow new volunteers Alicia, Geraldine, and Team Leader (and birthday girl) Beckie. We are all excited and working hard for the upcoming October full of Teen Clubs with the topic of ‘Budgeting & Saving’ being planned for. Hopefully we will be able to make it as fun and informative as previous sessions! An additional aim is to galvanise interaction via the Swaziland Teen Club Facebook page, so if you haven’t already, please ‘like’ us and help spread the word!

Thanks for reading!

Amar Mistry,
UK SkillShare Volunteer 2011
Any comments, questions, or concerns would be gratefully received at swazilandteenclub@gmail.com

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