Monday, May 12, 2008

Success at a youth workshop

Following the holiday program of activities, we organized a youth workshop to address some fundamental youth issues. Based on personal testimonies from the youth, four key areas were highlighted for assessment: Relationships, Sexuality, and Reproductive Health (HIV/AIDS).

Having identified the relevant topics for study, one of the Youth Leaders was mandated to source for the facilitators. She proposed the National Organization for Peer Counsellors (NOPE) as the constituent body that could effectively reach out to the youth in an endeavour to address their issues.

On 19th April, 2008 we set out for Pastoral Centre at about 9.30am. All the youth were in jovial mood anticipating fun and lots of entertainment. As it’s the tradition, the convoy was delayed by a group of girls who took the their time adorning themselves for the occasion. Due to limited time, we ran out of patience and left behind about ten girls who were still undergoing manicures in their rooms. They were brought later by other means of transport.

We found the venue and due to the large number of participants in the forum, we opted to split in two groups. The discussions began at a high gear causing another group to launch a formal complaint that youth were interrupting their lectures through giggling. According to the facilitator, youth discussions ought to be vibrant and enthusiastic otherwise you risk losing the objective of the meeting. Therefore, we relocated to some distant room to allow the youth to vent their feelings. The nature of the discussions was flowery and open. For the few occasions we stood away from the groups, a lot of information was given without withholding anything. We learnt that our children harbour so much and need a constant psychological therapy from trusted counsellors to heal. We can't be their counsellors per se.

The most interesting topic and well discussed was on relationships and sexuality. Facilitators came down to their level in language, style, mode of dressing and so forth. They felt close to one another setting the mood of openness and trust amongst them. The slang language adopted carried the day; most learning was effected through it. Youth felt more embarrassed to talk about sensitive issues in English than in sheng. It was amazing how artistic the youth were while drawing reproductive organs; they gave it their best in talent show! On the contrary they quickly got bored when the subject on HIV/AIDS surfaced; it’s an area often talked about and they feel that nothing new can be reintroduced within its realm.

The day was not complete without tea breaks and lunch. Youth felt professional and prestigious to be served a nice tea with cakes. Lunch out was superb! Everyone was served with chicken accompanied with different dishes based on ones needs. Most of the participants enjoyed the well fried local chicken served with French fries and a soda.

It is worth mentioning that the youth expected to attend the occasion with eagerness; this gave the facilitators an ample opportunity to pass across their teachings making the workshop a success.

by Simon Mudi