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Wellness Educator Training Feedback

Feedback from Metrorail & Minopex Wellness Educator Training

‘Hi my name is Martha. I just want to say thank you to myself for joining as a peer educator, because you know what?  According to my own point of view, I thought the word ‘peer educator’ was more about communication between your peers about AIDS, and I often became bored with these topics. Thank you all very much for the knowledge I’ve gained today, and about health. The only thing that I knew about health was to eat healthy food, HIV diseases and to exercise -that is the main thing I knew about health, but today I learnt a lot! How to make decisions and life choices is also health. I was so amazed.  Happiness is also health. Wellness and lifestyles are also health. To lead by example, more especially we peer educators: you must always practice what you preach. You can’t tell somebody don’t smoke when immediately after the break started, you smoke, then they would say these people are just lying to us! To understand other people’s culture and religion, I was also not aware it was part of people’s health. To sleep enough, I thought maybe you should just sleep four hours as long as you have rest, I was unaware that this was part of health. I thank myself and all my fellow partners, to see myself being here today and become a peer educator, it means I gained a lot and can teach more and more.  I study for my family and fellow workers, also my community. Thank you!’

Ronald Tshabalala from Metro Rail said the following after his 1st training module:

‘My understanding of life has changed. Now I know how to take it one day at a time. I don’t have to rush because I understand a certain truth: it is the truth that was taught here that made me calm and balanced. What I’m saying, is that this was for me a pivotal point, a life changing event! I won’t look back again. Thank you for depositing yourself into a stranger’s life. You have just saved me, my family and my nation. I am eternally grateful!’

To summarise some of the other peer/wellness educators’ comments on what they learnt during the training sessions:

  • Most people don’t know how or what they should eat. The training taught us and now I can teach them.
  • We also learnt the importance of emotional & mental “food” and wellbeing and how important the way we think, is for our wellness
  • I know more about how my body works. How it all fits in together, and the importance of nutrition, exercise, meditation. Now I can teach others.
  • We learnt to check labels for the nutritional value of food. I’m more aware of healthy food choices and show it to others. I’ve started to adapt my grocery list to make healthier food choices. In the shop others ask me what I’m checking and I explain to them right there in the shop.
  • When our group eat together at work, I eat healthier and also then show others: cold drinks, pap with greasy gravy, and chips should be replaced by water, fruit, vegetables, peanuts and yogurt.  And, it’s not more expensive! Even the woman who sells the food has been bringing healthier food to sell at her informal store during our lunch breaks at work!
  • We learnt about the importance of water and to drink clean water regularly
  • We know now how important sleep is for our bodies to recover and rest. Also to sleep in darkness and quiet, even if we work night shift
  • We think wellness should be a part of SHE (safety, health and environment of occupational health) programs as well
  • Since I started being a Peer Educator my life has changed a lot because I know how to deal with stress and I can also manage my budget.
  • Before, when I was sad or people upset me, I used to cry and feel lonely, but now I feel much better.  I feel stronger inside. I know that I can accept things and I can do some breathing exercise and meditate. Then I stay in control of my thoughts and feelings. That helps me to deal with situations a lot better.
  • I know the right food for me and my family.  No more stress! I save a lot of money because the healthy food is cheaper than the fancy food
  • I’m now able to talk to others, approach people correctly, stay aware and not become involved in their story: if they’re negative, I can stay positive and help them to be more positive
  • At work also now I’m in the spotlight because when you are a peer educator people look at you and then you become a leader, even if you don’t notice.  Even management takes a look at you to be a leader.  So now I can speak to people and people will listen. Before, I was scared to talk to management. Now I’m not! So all I can say is then I have grown personally.
  • I knew I had it in me, but this training has helped me develop to take a positive leadership role, gain knowledge, learn more about health & wellness, and to help others do the same. I want to spread this knowledge to my community.
  • My life has changed so much after being a peer educator:
    • Because I know the importance of knowing my total health status, not only my HIV status
    • I know how to manage my stress and anger
    • I’ve started to talk at community gatherings to also make them more aware.  Some listen, some don’t. I know not to become upset. I can’t change people, I can only plant the seeds. Each one changes when ready
  • I was very happy to be one chosen to be a Peer Educator. I thought God had an aim about my life, because I was so scared to stand in front of people, but now it is easy, to stand and share some important views about healthy things to my colleagues and also community and my family, it changes me a lot. I feel free inside
  • As I was doing these programs of wellness I gained a lot of knowledge; life changing behaviour; know how to deal with problems easily and reducing bad habits like too much smoking, alcohol and sex caused by stress. From 6 beers a day I only take 6 a month, 30 cigarettes a day and now stopped. My brain can think, my body feels good. I found other ways to deal with stress: walking, exercise and breathing.
  • Since I’ve become a peer educator, I have become more aware of health issues.  I personally have learned to cope with stress a lot better and to manage anger as well.  I no longer use blood pressure medication, for my blood pressure is much more stable and under control. The breathing exercises, meditation and awareness of upsetting emotions help me to control my anger better. I have more inner calmness.  

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