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Life Skills Training for the teens of St. joseph's Orphans Center

This month Unite engaged trainers from the Arusha-based NGO JobOrtunity to run a two-week-long customized life skills and personal development workshop at the St. Joseph's Orphans Center for seven of our secondary students and 10 of our university students who were home for holiday. The workshop included six modules taught mostly through experiential learning or "learning by doing." This was the first time any of these students have received any formal training of any kind, outside of the classroom. While many were a bit shy at first, eventually they stepped out of their comfort zones to seize this rare and unique opportunity to learn and grow. We are proud of them and will continue our work with JobOrtunity to provide them further trainings as possible over the months and years to come.

The trainers used this chart to reinforce the importance of pushing one selves beyond one's comfort zone.

The workshop focused on teaching our students about how to take responsibility for their decision making and problem solving abilities; seize opportunities; deal with peer pressure and keep themselves safe; think positively and see challenges as opportunities; and how to identify and understand their own strengths and weakness (to work on) for personal growth and development.

Elements of the training included short lectures, round-table discussions, small group sessions and debate.

One example: "Victim of Circumstance." The lesson began by having the students define: What is a victim? What is a circumstance? What is a victim of circumstance? Following their discussion, they were shown a short movie about a woman with no arms who was able to take care of her baby boy. The students then broke into small groups to discuss what they observed and came back with the following:

1. Accept the fact that life is not easy. You must cope with every situation you are faced with. It is what it is, and you must focus, concentrate and cope with it.

2. Believe in yourself. Have confidence and a good attitude. Take responsibility by actively looking for solutions. Be flexible and creative with challenges.

3. Do not judge a book by its cover. Always help others.

4. Work hard. Try new things -- trial and error. Never give up.

During the 6-day workshop each student was called forward to lead activities and participate in hands-on exercises that reinforced key lessons of the day.
When learning about the importance of commitment, the students reflected on who they think is the most committed person in their lives: their legal guardian Sister Crispina Mnate, director and founder of the St. Joseph's Orphans Center.

For more information, contact Anne Wells, founder & director of Unite The World With Africa Foundation, 314-239-3997, anne@uniteafricafoundation.org.

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