Back row from left to right: Jeanette Makgothi; Siyabonga Khumalo; Happiness Nxumalo; Thabiso Tsotetsi; Thandeka Radebe; Joyce Matlou.

Middle row: Sindisiwe Mkhabela (trainer); Nonhlanhla Nsele; Sr Geralda Hlongwane; Joyce Gumede; Zodwa Ngobese; Hombisa Nsikhaye (trainer – standing)

Sitting in front: Avie Cherrington (SACBC Aids Office); Makudubete Mokoena; Smangele Mkhabela.


Foundations of Working with Children

16 – 20 April 2012, St Philomena’s Durban

The SACBC AIDS Office engaged Zoe Life to conduct training on working with children who need to disclose their HIV status and who are on ARV treatment. The three week course kicked off with a workshop on communicating and counselling with children aged 4 to 11 years. The 12 participants, from some of the KwaZulu-Natal and Free State orphan and vulnerable children sites, were led through the process of building a counselling relationship with a vulnerable child, creating a child-friendly space and understanding the child’s emotional response to stressful events. There were also activities on self awareness and addressing the fears and anxieties care givers have towards counselling children, and especially regarding doing disclosure to children.

The entire workshop was also fun, consisting of many practical and creative activities. Participants were shown how to use different forms of play to communicate with children and to build a toy ‘toolbox’ consisting of items such as crayons, play-doh, toy soldiers etc. There was also a brief introduction to the three workshops which will follow in May – KidzLiteracy, KidzWhoTest and KidzWellness. An interesting discussion followed about the importance of testing and disclosing to children, in an age appropriate way, and the participants shared some of the challenges they face in their communities.

The training concluded with a sharing circle where everyone got the opportunity to share what they had learned. From the responses it was clear that everyone found the workshop extremely meaningful to their work and said they were keen to try out their new skills at their Centres as soon as they returned. The activities opened their eyes about counselling children through play and being ‘on the child’s level’ not talking down to children. Several participants also said that the training had increased their self confidence and decreased their fears.

The second week of the course, from 7 – 11 May, will introduce age-appropriate ways to talk to children about disease and HIV, as well as working with the child’s family to allay fears.