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Email sent to Dr Arien

“Dear Dr Arien 

It is with great delight that I write to appreciate you for knowledge gained during the 3 days workshop on workplace wellbeing. Over 1 year after, my employers have successfully adopted a comprehensive health promotion program for our workplace following a proposal I forwarded on return from the Workplace Health workshop last year April. More importantly, our Wellness Clinic has been upgraded to a Health Promotion and Wellness Division and of which I have been appointed the head.

This division comprises of four units ,Wellness clinic, laboratory screening services, Dietetics and weight control program we have also integrated HIV/AIDS at the workplace into our program. This latest development even though it is coming late has set the ball rolling for a new phase of healthcare at our workplace!

Thanks once again.”


Yours in youthful living

Dr Edward Alali”

Head, Health Promotion and Wellness Division

National Assembly, Abuja,


May Talk: Developing an Integrated Organisational Wellness Program 

Hi Doc. I would to thank you so much for the learning experience you took me through at the Wellness Conference l attended at Birchwood Conference Centre from the 27-29 May. May the good Lord continue to richly bless you. Tendayi Munhenga, Human Resources Manager.

National Assembly Abuja Wellness Centre (Nigeria)

(2 Day Short Course in Workplace Wellness) 

1st Group

Murtala Abdulahi

During the programme I learnt:

  • How to set up a wellness clinic
  • It is better to go for preventative medicine

Patricia Kuku

The course was very insightful, enlightening and educative. I learnt various skills which I hope to put into practice once I get back to my station. We want to thank Dr Arien with her sound and practical ability to import knowledge in a fun filled manner.

Inegbu Augustine Nnamdi

The course was quite satisfactory and fulfilling.

Dr Chinny Nwankwo

Educative and thought provoking – simply super!

Ishamartha Sarah

It was very educative and has widen my horizon and perception about what wellness is all about. Quite fulfilling. You did marvellous work. Looking forward for more.

2nd Group

Dr Edward Alali

Quite an impressive and exploratory training session.

You gave us all we needed to know about wellness in a nutshell.

It will be worthwhile going back to put all we have learnt into practice.

Thank you. 

Kingsley IkemNwoke

It was a very interesting programme really. I learned a lot from wellness in the workplace to stress management. It’s fun to know that you could really take care of your health status without drugs, and even that exercising is a good therapy.

Mrs Bernadine Enwerem

It was a very good workshop on wellness of human beings’ life, systems of the body’s wellbeing, and how to live well, joyfully and how to relax in life.  Stress is the cause of all the diseases and health problems people have on earth. Also wellness is a personal treatment.

Department of Labour:

Practical Stress Management Course of 3 full day sessions every 2 weeks (refer feedback following) for 2 groups of 20 employees per group, repeated for another 3 groups and once again for a 4th group (6 different groups). Contact: Petro Roux.Manager: Training and Performance Management; Dept. of Labour. Provincial Office: Gauteng North. Tel:   012 – 309 5194.


Appointed as specialist corporate health & wellness service provider to implement employee wellbeing programs, incl. Wellness Day Events, health screening, keynote speaking at company events, stress courses, peer education, etc (Carina Bleeker. Corporate Services Manager. Tel: 012 683 1200. Cell. 083 5402810.

EDi (with Deloitte Consulting):

Appointed as specialist corporate health & wellness service provider to implement their employee wellbeing intervention (Empilweni – Life, Health, Abundance), incl. Wellness Day Events, health screening, keynote speaking at company events, stress courses, peer education, financial wellness, legal councelling, individual health coaching for stressed and health challenged employees, etc. (Jane Coughlan. Executive Lead. Consulting – Human Capital. Deloitte Consulting Pty Ltd. Tel/Direct: 011 806 5400. Mobile: 082 826 2135.

University of Pretoria Continued Education Program:

Short courses in Stress Management, Wellness in the Workplace (including Natural & Complementary Medicine) and Peer Educator Training. Two courses on each of the 3 topics with advanced courses in each as follow ups. (Prof. Lourie Terblanche. Course Leader. Tel. 012 420 3292. E-mail:

Exxarro (previously Kumba Resources & Iscor):

Various ongoing workplace wellness, chronic disease of lifestyle (incl. HIV/Aids) management, natural & complementary medicine, peer educator training programs (Wellness manager: Pierre Cloete.Tel.012-3073225. E-mail:


Deloitte partners with HSM and Dr Arien van der Merwe to act as specialist corporate health & wellness service provider to their clients (e.g. EDI Holdings & GEMS Health & Wellness and Maternity Program Tenders). (Portfolio managers: Anele C. Mtshemla, Aretha du Rand, Lucien Kearns. Tel. 012 482 000)

Metro Rail

Peer /Wellness Educator training: 2 modules (Module 1: basic anatomy, physiology, nutrition, stress and wellness; Module 2: using the integrative model to address the CDL’s relevant to Metro Rail), facilitation, manuals, books, posters. Training adapted to different levels of employee education. Recently requested to extend training program from an initial 15 trainees to another 20, and now also 15 more. Finally up to 100 employees will be trained. (EAP & Wellness Manager: Wendy Mabuya – Tel. 27 11 773 6621)

Minopex Peer Educator training:

Training, facilitation, manuals, posters to address the following chronic diseases of lifestyle: HIV/Aids, heart disease, TB, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure. (Wellness manager: Japhta Raphadu. Tel. 014 536 4044)

Discovery Health, LA Health, Vitality Program, Discovery Institute:

Development of interactive Internet Stress Centre on Discovery World for Vitality members; also interactive Stress Course on internet, extending to all Discovery’s corporate clients. Health, wellness, stress management, work-life balance talks, workshops, courses to members, health partners, corporate clients. (Marketing manager: Paula Brown. Tel. 082 602 0602)

Qualsa Healthcare:

Stress management workshops to POLMED Call Centre staff. (Manager: Employee Assistance Programme: Manini Radebe. Tel: 021 480 5158, Cell. 083 450 0209)


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.


Feedback from the Stress Course at the Dept. of Labour in Pretoria, consisting of 2 courses of 3 full day sessions, 2 weeks apart to allow for practice and integration:

1. My life has changed on so many levels:

At work:

I used to be stressed by my manager end supervisors. Now I take things as they come and just do away with my stressful thoughts. I can cope with both clients and supervisors without any hassles. I am back to normal.

At home:

I can tolerate whatever problem comes my way and resolve it very easy. I resolve my family matters easily and can stand the hardships that come my way. I am now relieved and stress free. I no longer frequent my doctor like I use to. I follow all the instructions that I read and listen to the CD provided by Dr. A van der Merwe.


I was not aware that children are also affected by stress because my son was reacting very strange. When I was speaking to him he was so rude, eating abnormal and coming home very late. I took my time to listen to all his problems and I tried my utmost best to console him and guide him and also taught him to pray to the almighty God because He is the truth and light to all of us. I am now stress free and can cope and stand all the hardships I come across. Dr van der Merwe came to my rescue and showed me and gave me guidance on how to handle and relieve stress.

2. JM Plodi

Thank you Dr. van der Merwe. I have been dreading meetings and got all stressed out before attending these. Now I’ve learned to calm my mind, and can even manage to look forward to meetings, to have an effect of calmness on the others!

My friend has been so depressed, used to drinking sleeping pills, sleeping and eating too much. After I attended this course, I started reading the book Stress Solutions by Dr van der Merwe to her, and started doing breathing exercises from the Stress Solutions relax and unwind level 1 CD with her. She is back to life and she wants to attend the course and needs the book and CD. She stopped drinking those sleeping pills and she started doing exercises with the Nestle active at SABC 2 every morning at 05h45. She hhas started sharing with other people who have the same problem as her.

3. Hlako NJ: This training should be extended to everyone. Stress involves everyone. This course was not only about stress but life as a whole, nutrition, well-being, exercise and nature. We are looking forward to a refresher in 2010.

4. Mothiba MH: the course was fruitful to me to help others in our society. I’m glad we did this course because I learned a lot about me and about other people’s emotions and to handle myself.

5. Juliet Mmabetho Tladi: the course was fruitful to me. It helped me, my friends, colleagues and my family. I recommend a refresher course.

6. Zebeclia Moalusi Ngobeni: the course was interesting and most helpful to me because I can now cope with hardships I come across.

7. Sinkie Ntuli: I like this course whereby it said be calm most of the time by knowing yourself.

8. Joyce Skosana: it has helped on how to react in a positive way withtout being stressed like before.

9. Jacques Joubert: very insightful and interesting; how you handle your emotions and herbal healing and correct eating. The journey has just begun.

10. Skhumbuzo Mesangu: it is very important and it must be extended to other co-workers.

11. Lulama Mthi: the course helped me with handling/managing stress. I can deal with stress at work/at home. I have also learned that healthy food also contributes positively to our health.

12. Nomathamsanqa Batyi: it was very effective on how to deal with stress and ways of changing your mindset to be positive and the correct diet to be taken.

13. Mandla Mdluli: this training has been a eyeopener on how to live a meaningful life as human beings and to be mindful of ourselves and surroundings in terms of stress factors. This has been the best training ever. Refresher course please!

14. Boutle Morudu: the program has been helpful in training my thoughts into thinking and believing positively. The breathing exercises have improved my moodswings, the CD and book keep me informed and enable my train of thought to be channeled properly.

15. Phindi Masha: the session was good. I have enjoyed and learned to overcome stress.

16. Mogan Mmmama: I have learned how to control stress. I have gained the knowledge of how to help the person who is stressed. To take control of myself and be positive. Eat healthy and understand my body.

17. Christina Kywatalale: I have learned to control my anger, temper, to think positive. I have started exercising and so far have lost 1kg and I am continuing the exercise, practicing my breathing now and then. I am calmer and happier.

18. Selinah Motlhatlhane: this program is so helpful to my working environment and household. I have learned that one can not have joy and happiness if he/she does not have it from the inner side.

  • That what you think is what you are going to act on.
  • How to manage stress: the eating, the sensing, the breathing.
  • And the emotional positioning system i.e. positive and negative and so much more.


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