Friday, 30 March 2012


UNAM - the University of Namibia. Twenty eager faces watching. Lisianna, my Friendly Haven colleague, gave me the nod. I breathed deeply, and began.

I've been trying to strengthen the links between Friendly Haven and UNAM for a while. Every year, they allocate a fourth year social work student to Friendly Haven to work with us in the local communities and schools, help deal with our clients, and liaise with the local Women and Child Protection Unit (fondly known as WACPU - or on many days, just WHACKO). This has been a successful relationship for many years, and I'd discussed the potential of developing it further with them. They'd agreed to give us another ten interns - from the third year social work students - and we'd give the whole third year training on how to work with young people in community settings around HIV, GBV, abuse and gender.

I wrote a funding application to the British High Commission, who kindly agreed to give us the money needed for three days workshops, and a small budget for materials for outreach sessions over the year. It meant we had to divide the 60 students into three groups of 20, and do the same workshop for each of them, over three Fridays. We would provide lunch and information packs. I designed the training day to include some work on how to facilitate groups as well as explore HIV, gender and GBV. I'd divided up the activities with my Friendly Haven colleagues - they would co-deliver the training with me to give them extra experience, and so I could give feedback to them after.

The training came around all too quickly, and apart from a few hiccups with the lunch timings, thankfully, all went smoothly. Feedback was great. And now I have ten enthusiastic social work students calling me at all hours of the day and night asking for advice on various matters. But I'm enjoying it really - they're delivering outreach programmes for us in five different locations in Windhoek, and it really helps Friendly Haven as our staff capacity compared to the demand for work, was low. In turn, we give the students extra support and ideas, as well as a small budget for materials.

So far, I'm pleased with how it's turning out - today, I observed one of the students during a session, and she used several of the activities from the training, which the young people enjoyed. So we'll see how it continues throughout the year.

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