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Peer educator training for MSM

Feb
13

In Cabo Delgado, the northern most province of Mozambique, ten men gathered at the Global Health Communication (GHC) office in Pemba to participate in a peer educator training for men who have sex with men (MSM). The training was conducted by GHC, with support from the Project VIDAS consortium members Populations Services International, Pathfinder International, and LAMBDA, a Mozambican advocacy group for sexual minorities.

As part of the Project VIDAS, GHC works with four groups recognized as being at high risk of HIV: MSM, drug users, sex workers and miners and their wives. The training in Pemba was the start of the second round of peer education training designed specifically for MSM conducted by GHC and was the result of a successful collaboration between GHC and LAMBDA. GHC and LAMBDA worked together to merge their materials and training agendas in order to cover in one week all relevant information for MSM and necessary skills for Project VIDAS peer educators. The training itself was conducted by facilitators from both GHC and LAMBDA, with support from Pathfinder International. Topics included: An Introduction to HIV and STIs; HIV testing; Drug Use, Health, and HIV; Factors of Vulnerability; Gender and Sexuality; Homosexuality in Africa; Gender-Based Violence; Stigma and Discrimination; Human Rights; Communication Skills; Introduction to Peer Education, Expectations of the work and Role Modeling; Communication Skills; Behavior Change Theory; and an Introduction to the Pathways to Change Game, one of GHC’s Behavior Change tools.

Due to a national holiday, the five-day training was compressed into four days, however all of the topics were covered without problem since the level of education and literacy of the group was relatively high. The group was engaged in the material, and everyone actively participated in the training. Some of the participants had attended the first Project VIDAS peer educator training, so there was some familiarity with that section of material. These participants helped facilitate the sections on behavior change, and were proud to discuss the material with their fellow participants.

On the final day of the training, the group learned how to play Pathways to Change. Each participant was given the Pathways to Change Facilitator’s Guide which includes review of the key behavior change concepts, instructions, and the game board. The Facilitator’s Guide can easily be taken into the field and used with peers. Using the previous day’s training on facilitators and barriers at the personal, social, and environmental level, the participants invented a character and a desired behavior change. Discussing the life of the fictitious “Alexandre” and his efforts to begin regular condom use, everyone was able to contribute to the game. When one participant was stuck, the group patiently assisted him as he sorted out the difference between a social barrier and an environmental barrier. After playing Pathways to Change, each participant felt comfortable with the game and confident that they could lead the game with a group of peers.

At the end of the training, feedback was positive, and the young men expressed gratitude for the opportunity to learn about the topics which they found relevant to their own lives. Each participant received a certificate for attendance. The group was very proud of their certificates and thought they would be useful in the future when they look for work. Overall, the training was a success, and the participants were prepared to begin work as peer educators. As the first of three trainings for MSM peer educators to be completed in the Project VIDAS provinces, the training in Cabo Delgado was an excellent start.