Monday, November 05, 2012

Visit to Nyamitanga's Peer Group

A new local NGO I work with in Mbarara, Health and Development Agency Uganda (HEADA) has a modest Peer Group project in 6 senior secondary schools in the town.  During my recent visit I was invited to view a drama put on by the peer group at Nyamitanga Senior Secondary School.  We are met just inside the gate their female patron, one of the teachers, Ms. Saubah Kengalagwa, the student leader of the group Imran Muhumuza, who is a Senior 1 student and  the peer group coordinator, John Senoga. 
John and his fellow coordinator, Collins Sebufu both received their original facilitator training through the Healthy Child Uganda project.  Since that initial training they both have continued to develop the program and their own leadership skills. After introductions to the school, John gives us a concise overview of the Peer Group program in this school.  The Peer Groups are given 11 specific sessions with a theme for each one.  But the specific themes appear to be just the starting point and the gatherings a focus for their enthusiasm and interest.
 We learn that the peer group has 27 members and membership continues to grow.  As students learn about what they are doing, they become interested.  It is obvious the students at this school are active as they have posted messages on the bulletin board and even have a logo.  The Peer Group project is in its second phase which started in July 2012 following training of the trainers and the Peer Group Educators.
This Peer Group has been very active in recycling.  They show us a variety of items made from recycled paper and plastic, several of which have been used in the drama.  The group appears very organized, with positions and roles that allow many to take part.  Many of the students who aren’t boarders, stay on after school to take part in Peer Group Activities. 
 During the play a group of young girls perch on benches at the side in white hijabs.  There are not enough places or chairs in the classroom so many students press up to the windows on both sides to watch the play.  As it is Saturday, only boarders remain at the school but from the look of things all of them have their places at the windows.   
After the drama there are numerous speeches.  Dr. Sharif, the executive director, tells them how pleased he is with their drama.  The Peer Group Leader thanks us for coming. Even I share my delight.  Amazing how much can be accomplished by an inspired group of students given some direction



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