Education, in particular HIV/AIDS education, is the cornerstone of EFA’s strategy to improve the condition of life for the associations and members of our Youth Empowerment Network. Peace Corps Volunteer Caitlyn Bradburn paved the way when she created the Peer Education program. The Peer Education program was designed to give association members, regardless of previous education, monetary situation, or ability to read or write, the opportunity to not only educate themselves on HIV and AIDS, but to serve as educators for their peers also infected or affected by HIV and AIDS in their community. It sought to empower our members to not only live positively themselves,but to promote positive living and reduce stigma and discrimination in their communities. Caitlyn, Alim, and Amada served as the new program trainers.
When I arrived as the next Peace Corps Volunteer to serve with EFA International, it was clear this program was a huge success. Members felt empowered and attitudes and behaviors of both HIV-positive and HIV-negative people in the community were changing. I thought to myself: this is great, but how can it be better? I realized, the previous Volunteer had created this empowering and effective program, but now my role was to make it sustainable, to make it EFA’s program and not the Volunteer’s.
I approached Alim and Amada, the trusty and dedicated staff of the regional office in Cameroon with an idea... what if we trained existing motivated and talented Peer Educators as volunteer program trainers? Though they thought the task would be difficult, they were immediately on board. What better way to further empower EFA Youth Empowerment Network members? What better way to ensure that the program can and will exist without a Peace Corps Volunteer?
With the help of star Peer Educator/Trainer Pehlem Therese, whose excellence and passion for peer education had actually already secured her as a Peer Education trainer, I set off to design my project and with the support from a VAST/PEPFAR grant and contributions from EFA International, including those from Global Giving. My project began in late November 2011.
Candidates for the new trainer position underwent a preliminary application and testing process, from which we selected four Peer Educators to continue on to the training round. These four candidates then participated in an 8-day intensive Training of Trainers, which included identifying training needs, facilitation, and leadership techniques. Finally,all the candidates gained practical experience by serving as the lead trainers in an actual EFA Peer Education cycle for members of AJUBS Kousseri under my supervision and the supervision of Pehlem and Amada. Even though the project was long and difficult, watching the improvement of these four candidates from the initial interview process to the final trainings they delivered has beeninspiring. In addition, seeing Pehlem continue her personal and professional growth and rise to the challenge of being a leader has been one of the greatest highlights of my service. Not only have they all succeeded themselves, but they successfully trained 8 new peer educators in Kousseri, a training success rateof 80 percent with the highest average post-training test score of any PeerEducation cycle and EFA’s first post-test score of 100%!
I am so proud to announce EFA International Cameroon’s five volunteer Peer Education Trainers, who successfully completed their training and practical in March 2012:
Pehlem Therese, AJEPS MarouaAsta Madeline, AJEPS MarouaSalihou, ASSYSGOD GodolaAissatou Moussa, AJUBS KousseriHenriette Maidouwe, AJUBS Kousseri
Please join me in congratulating their hard work and welcoming them to the EFA team! This success is due not only to their hard work, but also to the generous support of Global Giving donors like you. Please help EFA to continue this positive momentum!
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EFA Country Representative