Peer Educator Gathering – Africa Unite KZN Office

On the 10th of September 2021 one of Africa Unite KZN conducted a Peer educator gathering with the newly trained peer educators at the AU KZN office. The Aim of the gathering was to check on the progress since they were trained, what are the activities being implemented on the ground, how has the KZN unrest affected their work, and to do a session on how to conduct a Human Rights information session. The gathering was a success as it was attended by 11 out of 12 peer educators.

Due to our office space and Covid-19 protocols we could not accommodate all of them at once, so we had the first session in the morning with 6 peers and the second session after lunch with 5 peers, both gatherings were facilitated by Melusi Mahlaba and it was indicated in both gathering that this gathering was long overdue, it was supposed to be done just after the training but due to lockdown and restrictions we couldn’t do it.

We apologize for that and for dividing into two groups, it is due to our space and COVI-19 and lockdown protocols that must be followed.  Peers accepted the apology, and they were just happy to be together again.

The session started with getting the feeling from the group, on how they have been, how has this upgrade of lockdown affected them and how has the Unrest affected them. Peer educators were very worried about uncertainty about the country’s future, we don’t know what will happen tomorrow. What happened in July was a total shock, some sort of unrest was bound to happen but not the way it happened. It was also indicated that it affected them a lot as some of them lost a close friend and some were in the heart of the racial tension, and they have witnessed something that they don’t wish for anyone. Overall that Unrest was a wakeup call to the South African government, they need to up their game in terms of addressing social issues such as poverty, unemployment, and lack of service delivery because it is frustrating people, and you don’t know when they might be united and strike again

Some peer educators have been on the ground conducting information sessions and some still need assistance in terms of facilitation, but they are willing to support those who are confident in facilitation so that they can learn from them. Some of the things they need are they need is support from one another a peer, as you find that some are good in facilitation, some are good in writing, and some are just good at organising. So, if the office can coordinate that we are able to share these skills as peers there is a lot that we can achieve moving forward. One peer was happy to get to understand other peer educator’s strengths, since they last met in the training and have never got a chance to share their strengths as they just did, he further asked what are the programs that must be conducted by the peer educators and how the office is supposed to support the peer educators on the ground.

It was then explained that it is the duty of peer educators to communicate and get to know each other and that the office is supposed to be the ones that make sure they follow up on peer educators and keep the communication level active. As peers you don’t need to be coordinated by the office to meet if you want to meet but it is advisable that if it is anything linked with the organisation then you must contact the office.

The other peer educator stated that it is not always easy to work with young people especially when not everyone is serious and able to commit themselves, he further stated that other peer educators do not comment on the group they just keep quiet. Even if there is something shared in the group no few or one comments, we need to work on that as peers because we can’ t expects to be pushed to participate as we are the ones who applied to be peer educators now, we need to try and at least meet the office halfway and we must make it their responsibility to know more about the organisation.

We then went on to the programs we do as Africa Unite with the aim of checking where do we need to put more efforts. In terms of Human right information session, we are still on track as there continuously session conducted almost every week, but we need all peers to at least conduct to information sessions. Information session is not as difficult as you imagine it, it is one of the simplest activities you can conduct. It is as simple as just meeting 15 young people and talk about issues you are seeing in you community nothing formal just have a conversation and then make sure the register is signed and then prepare a simple report. You can also share the human right information that you have learnt during the training and there are numerous human right issues in our communities, so if you guys can also take advantage of that and conduct the sessions addressing those issues. You can visit, schools, clinics, and other places where you will find people already there and you can just share the human right information. The presentation on how to run a Human Rights Information Session was presented and then later shared with peers for their benefit in running or conducting information session. It was indicated that peers need to try and at least do 2 information session by December 2021.

In terms of celebration of diversity, we are focusing more on the special days in the South African Calendar such as Human Rights Day, youth day and Heritage Day. Right now, we are towards the Heritage Day and as the organisation we need to conduct a program celebrating our diversity and with the Unrest that just happened and what happened between Indians and African. If we can try and be in contact, we the relevant people and stakeholders who are directly and indirectly linked with these racial tension issues and partner with them to conduct the years September Celebration of Diversity. Peer educators were then tasked to identify stakeholders and individuals that we can meet and partner with them and it very important for peers to be part of this celebration.

In Community Conflict Mediation we are just focusing more on following up on the racial tensions sparked during the Unrest in KZN. We are aiming to get the views of the people about what happened and what they think can be done to address the issue. We are meeting with different stakeholders that we believe we can work with in addressing the issue. Some of the peers are already part of the consultations we have conducted in Phoenix and Chatsworth, if you guys have other people that you think we can meet with, please indicate and lastly, we would like to see more peer educators getting involved.

In the Skills sharing program we have not done anything and that is not good. With the perceptions and recurrence of xenophobic violence in KZN areas, Africa Unite saw it imperative for migrants and refugees to give back to the host country through transferring skills they possess. By doing so, we aim to have responsible and active young people who have projects that will help them to fend for themselves and their families. Moreover, tackling community violence and promoting social cohesion.

The purpose of the skills sharing program is to have refugees and migrants contribute positively to the host community to reduce xenophobic tendencies in our townships, to promote tolerance and new friendships between locals, migrants, and refugees, to reduce youth participation in xenophobic violence and to break the cycle of community violence and enhance social cohesion in the province. We need to work together in identifying foreign nationals who can share their skills, for schools we focus on Maths and Science, and we also do entrepreneurial skills sharing for the rest of the community. If you know any non-national who possesses these skills, please be in contact with the office so that we can plan and conduct this activity.

The meeting went well, we managed to unpack issues that affect the smooth flow of the organization. We also had a very fruitful session on how to run a successful information session and just knowing more about the programs and where we need to put more effort. Peer educators were happy to be part of the team and pledged to commit themselves in working more harder to achieve the objectives.

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