Peer Educators are an essential part of workplace HIV and wellness programmes. The work they do, providing support for colleagues, facilitating workplace and community discussions and disseminating information, makes a difference in the lives of their workmates, families and communities. Accordingly, providing regular training is essential to keep Peer Educators up to date on the latest information and themes regarding HIV and non-communicable diseases.
Since the end of March, 43 Peer Educators from Botswana and Zambia had their peer educator knowledge and skills enhanced equipping them to better deal with different wellness issues in the workplace.
Training in Botswana tackled gender-based violence (GBV) and sexual harassment. GBV has been identified as one of the significant drivers of HIV infection. Survivors of violence often experience physical, emotional and psychological trauma. The impact of this violence extends to families and communities and has a negative impact on social and economic development. It also negatively affects workplace productivity. Work performance of employees that are survivors of GBV often suffers, and motivation and commitment amongst other staff members may also be affected. This can, in turn, affect absenteeism and turnover.
In Zambia, workshops broadened Peer Educator understanding on emerging health challenges faced by employees addressing substance abuse and mental health. Dealing with mental health issues such as depression within workplace programmes is important as depression is more common in people living with chronic conditions such as HIV; rates can be as high as 60%. Depression can result in non-adherence to treatment regimens and sometimes increases high-risk behaviours that transmit HIV infection to other people (www.aidsinfonet.org).
Capacity building in Zambia was conducted through case studies, active group discussions and presentations. In the training evaluation, 87% of participants found the training beneficial citing that they would use it within their workplace peer education activities.
Steering Committee Training for Mombasa Network
SWHAP started the Mombasa Network for companies supported under the Raffia Bags mentorship programme. The Network now includes the following companies: Raffia Bags, Athi River Mining, Shreeji Chemicals, Gold Crown, Krystalline Salt, Atta Limited and Oriflame. Oriflame is not part of Raffia’s mentorship programme but was included as a SWHAP partner with presence in Mombasa.
The network provides a forum for the companies to share experiences and lessons, benchmark, plan for joint activities and receive capacity building on various aspects of their programmes. From these networks, the companies have improved their workplace wellness programmes and conducted joint community outreach programmes.
On 27 April, 57 steering committee representatives from the Network participated in training designed to provide strategies for enhancing innovativeness in workplace HIV programming. During the meeting, Athi River Mining shared how a sexual harassment programme using drama has been instrumental in employees opening up and reporting cases of GBV.