From 1-14 August 2021 the Just Leaders (JL) programme trained the next and newest group of student volunteers. This was a notable occasion as the majority of the group went through the entry-level training online, owing to COVID-19 lockdowns and related considerations. This was the volunteers’ first experience in a live training setting and their first interactions with each other, student trainers and staff members.

The training took place in Cullinan and consisted of two sections over two weeks:

  • The first section in week 1 focused on the training of the Befriender cohort. Befrienders are trained student lay counsellors who provide pre- and post-test counselling for HTS (HIV Testing Services) for fellow UP students and UP staff. They completed seven days of on basic counselling skills and HTS processes protocols.
  • The second section in week 2 focused on the training of the JL trainers and community engagement volunteers. JL trainers facilitate the programme’s 9-week social justice entry-level training course to their peers, both online and in face-to-face group sessions. While community engagement adapts elements of the 9-week course and offers it to high school pupils on topics related to social justice, leadership, activism and SRHR.

After two weeks of intensive training and self-reflection, volunteers showed a good grasp of the counselling and facilitation skills and concepts. In addition, they showed a lot of personal growth in a short space of time and bonded with volunteers. This often enriches their volunteering experience at the CSA&G. The volunteers showed ample personal growth and their dedication, commitment and resilience did not go unnoticed.

They seem poised to become instrumental in creating significant and lasting social change in their communities and help the JL programme to create safe, inclusive and socially just university spaces.

As we enter the new semester, we welcome these volunteers as members of the larger Just Leaders volunteer cohort and the CSA&G family.