The programme helps me grow, both personally and professionally
I am Margret Mutsambwa aged 49, a lecturer at Seke Teachers’ College in Zimbabwe. Currently I am the Health and Life Skills Education Coordinator. And I am also a member of the College Core-team coordinating the Quality Education and Vulnerability Programme supported by VVOB. One of my duties is to facilitate and organise college-based, participatory workshops, supporting student peer educators in their outreach to other students and surrounding communities.
The programme has been of great benefit to me as a professional in a number of ways. Firstly, I am more able to work together with other members in a team. This helps to successfully hold planned workshops. Secondly, as a subject area head, I put into practice the participatory methodologies, used in the workshops, in my lectures, to help students understand the materials better. Thirdly, periodic reflections and constructive feedback from the VVOB Support Team have made me learn and improve in my work and be more accommodating to other people’s views.
I have gained a lot from the capacity development processes I was involved in (in terms of skills, knowledge and attitude). I am able to guide and mentor the student peer educators of my college. In an outreach programme they support out-of-school peer educators at Young Africa Skills Centre nearby.
Because of the programme, I have also grown as a person… The content from workshops I have facilitated (for example, Life skills for new intake students) has helped me to communicate better at home. I am more assertive and can stand for what I believe is right and defend myself if necessary. I can use the knowledge I have gained in workshops to help relatives who are affected and infected with HIV and AIDS. I have a sister who has told me she is HIV positive and she benefits from information I gain when supporting peer educators. Examples which come to mind are information from Moving on workshops, Positive Living through Nutrition and Stigma and Discrimination workshops.
As a mother I have moved a step further, and I am free to discuss sexual and reproductive health issues that are considered taboo in our culture. I can now discuss condom use with my sons to really make sure they know how to use them properly and I can explain the importance of consistent use (that is if they have failed to abstain and have to indulge). I can now discuss issues to do with dating and other issues which could be surrounding it with my teenage daughters. This used to be the preserve of ‘vana Tete navana Sekuru’, the uncles and aunts in our culture.
Indeed the programme has been of benefit to me and my college. It is great that there lie many opportunities ahead that will help us turn our workplace into a student-friendly college. My dream is that the teachers who graduate from our college are sensitive to child vulnerabilities and take steps to offer opportunities to all the children in their classrooms.