Workshops, games and SKWID

Got back last night from my latest installment of VSO training courses, this time it was a half day Health and Personal Security Workshop, followed by the 4-day Skills for Working in Development (SKWID) course. As with the previous Preparing to Volunteer course, the SKWID course was very intensive but also extremely good fun and the trainers were excellent.

VSO courses aren’t really like any other training courses I’ve been on as they use such a variety of participation tools like role playing and games, and there’s no chance of just being able to sit there and not take part!

One of the main themes in the Health and Personal Security workshop was about treating water and the various water borne illnesses you may get from drinking untreated water. Anglian Water had unexpectedly provided me in training in this respect, as in Northampton, we’ve been having to boil all our water for the last week or so (though it is safe to drink again now!).

We had “energiser” games a few times a day – the first couple the trainers ran, then we had to run our own. The group I was in picked ‘Port/Starboard’ as the game we’d run, a game we used to play all the time in cubs, but that I’d completely forgotten about until Nono reminded me.

The bulk of the SKWID course is training us in how to use participatory approaches whilst on placement, how to get the communities interested and involved and how to be a facilitator for workshops we run. Much of the remaining parts of the course were about negotiation and conflict.

At the end of first day I was slightly unsure of how relevant what we were learning would be to my placement, but then we had to run a couple of workshops ourselves – using the other volunteers and trainers as guinea pigs – and everything started to make more sense!
The first workshop we had to run ourselves and had an hour to prepare for, the aims and approach used were entirely up to us. The aim in my workshop was for me to find out the IT skill level of the participants (something I’m sure I’ll need to do when I arrive in Ethiopia), but also so they can find out what IT skills each other have. I had 6 particpants divided in to 3 pairs, each pair had to write down 3 IT skills they had which they thought they could train others in (their ‘supplies’) then another 3 skills they’d like to learn (their ‘shopping list’). After writing these down they could then visit and chat to the other groups to see how many items they could tick off on their shopping list based on the skills offered by the other teams. This all went really well, though I needed to have summed up a bit better!

The second workshop we ran had a bit of a twist in that we weren’t allowed to use paper/pens, although we did run these workshops in pairs. I was working with Janine, one of the observers over from VSO Netherlands and the aim of our session was to find out where best to build a new healthcare centre in a village. We had the others role play being local villagers and they had to create a map (using anything they could find around – but no paper!) of their village, and then we asked them where the best place for the health centre would be – naturally they put it pretty much in the middle. They we told them that one of clinics would be for HIV & AIDS and (unsuprisingly) they immediately moved the centre to way outside the village. After a bit of suggestion that it might not be practical to get their children there for immunistations etc, they eventually move the clinic to the outskirts of the village.

The course was excellent fun but very tiring, so when we finished on Sunday lunchtime, a few of us had little while to wait for out trains home, so we headed off to Cadburys World just down the road… here’s Heloise, Thom and me sampling the chocolate…

Heloise, Thom and me

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