Well FINALLY we're back in business!!! It's been a busy few months since I last wrote and I apologise profusely for the lack of updates.
But we're here now so let's get started.
What's happening at 313 WKU House?
Well we've had a number of volunteers come ... and go! A HUGE THANKYOU to .... George (our longest standing volunteer who is sorely missed!), Kylie (whose happy chatter kept us amused for hours!) and Clara (who became great friends with Nobuthle, our trainer and is always asked after). If I get a chance I will write more about these fab volunteers who have kept WKU running so well. We've also had Rachel and Sherie from the UK who did an amazing job of our first Teen Clinic Training week.
At present we have an almost entire German household - Christian from Cologne, Stefan from Dresden and Hannah from Wurtzburg. Of course Marcus and myself (Jay) are still about but it's been fab getting some new recruits and the in house joke is that German will soon be the official language of WKU! We also welcome the gorgeous Khona (a Durbanite-Umlazi lass)who is helping us in numerous projects.
We are extremely busy with a number of projects on the go.
WKU Lifeskills Courses: are still being run in Edendale at Ashdown Primary by Nobuthle and Bonginkosi. Our next Tournament is on Friday October 5th when the 192 graduates of the last 8 weeks of WKU Courses will compete for the WKU Football Trophy in teams of 6.
Stefan is calmly organising all the logistics for the day so we are assured that the day will go off with wonderful German efficiency
Peer Education: We are currently working with the schools and Life Orientation teachers to meet with our Peer Educators every few weeks - this way we have an idea of any issues they may face and provide further information and resources. We will also be commencing a new Peer Educators course in another township in October.
Case Referals: As we often state, Kids don't just do our course they become part of the WKU team. This means that WKU is a source of referal when children are in need. Our trainers are constantly at the schools we have worked in or are seen in the community. So it is often that our trainers are approached by kids with problems. WKU becomes the mediator in issues at school and a resource referal for kids with personal issues. We are also approached by teachers who are concerned about individuals and we will go and check on these children.
We have a unique relationship with our WKU attendees - we are their trainers and their friends. We are not seen as authority figures like school teachers and so the kids feel more comfortable talking with us.
We are constantly providing assistance to our trainers, helping them with skills to deal with issues, researching the legal requirements, the resources that are available in the area and linking them into these resources. Marcus and myself do get involved personally with these cases as well and deal with the paperwork that is required.
Last week we had a case of a student threatening a teacher with a knife, a student with a possible STI, a very young teenage preganancy and a case of unknown school truancy which we had to investigate and deal with.
This sort of work can be distressing but the worst thing is that we know that we are only hearing of a tiny percentage of these children. We hope with our continual presence we will be become trusted confidents and help many more children who are in need.
Teen Clinic: Together with the Infectious Diseases Unit at Edendale Hospital we are in the process of providing a Teenage Clinic. We hope that this will be a place that our WKU kids can attend to get counselling for issues, be tested for HIV and get treatment for medical problems. We want this clinic to be a friendly holistic environment - a place where kids can feel safe to discuss ANY issue. Part of our credo is to stop HIV in this young population but also to support kids with HIV and help other kids to understand. This clinic will assist us with better knowledge of issues in the community that pertain to teenagers and hopefully giveus clearer statistics of HIV in the community.
So far we have had 2 specialists from the UK to do some training. Sherie, an Infectious Diseases Doctor and Rachel, a School based Psychologist came and taught the staff about physical and psychological growth of teenagers and the counselling process. We all learnt a learnt a lot and we hope to put this information out as a resource for health professionals within Africa through Africaid and NAM. We're looking forward to having Cathy, a Clinical Nurse Specialist and Tomas, a Child Psychologist join us next week for further training.
On the boards we have a Youth Centre/Pre School at Lamontville and spreading the WKU Life Skills Course to more schools at Edendale. We are also planning a HUGE Tournament for World AIDS Day.
But I'll fill you in on those next week!