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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Swaziland Teen Club Update

30 03 2010

This post was written by Shari Feirman, a volunteer with Swaziland Teen Club:

Teen Club participants write and draw positive messages for clinic patients in Manzini.

March has been a busy month for Swaziland Teen Club!

As always, support group meetings were held in both Manzini and Mbabane.  The meeting in Mbabane drew over 180 participants—a new record!  The theme this month was decision-making, specifically as it relates to health.  During the opening activity, participants had the opportunity to debate the validity of various statements; everything from “Beyonce is the best singer” to “It is difficult for youth to abstain from sex” was discussed.  Then we jumped into a conversation about personal decisions and responsibility.  The discussion turned out to be a great opportunity for participants to ask questions and voice concerns about HIV.  Towards the end of the day, the teens were asked to draw pictures or write positive messages for Baylor clinic patients.  Some very impressive work was created with messages such as “Wash Your Hands Before You Eat” and “Take Your Medications!”

We also started our Leadership Training Program recruitment process for the older teens.  Next month, Baylor will implement a program, funded by NERCHA (National Emergency Response Council on HIV/AIDS), that will equip participants with leadership skills and prepare them to assume responsibilities within Teen Club.  Twenty-five adolescents from each region in Swaziland will attend a three-day overnight training session.  In addition to jump-starting a youth-led model for Teen Club, this program will serve as a launching pad for opening additional Teen Club sites in Swaziland.  And we are very excited to welcome Peer Leaders from Baylor-Botswana to conduct the first three trainings!

The Swaziland Teen Club staff has also been hard at work planning a large testing initiative with Young Heroes.  Starting this month, hundreds of double orphans will be tested for HIV by Baylor doctors.  The testing will occur over the course of several days, with the first four days of testing taking place in the Shiselweni region.  When a Teen Club site in Shiselweni opens, adolescents who are found to have HIV will be invited to join the group.

All of our initiatives would not be possible without the support of community members and organizations.  A special “thank you” goes out this month to Bethel Court and Emcengeni Restaurant, who donated lunches for Mbabane and Manzini Teen Clubs, respectively, and to Zandile Nhleko from the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation for arranging those contributions.  Swaziland Teen Club is lucky to have such amazing support!