15 years-old, Ntando Nzama is a Grade 9 student at Kwantebeni Comprehensive High School in KwaNyuswa. An outgoing person with a cheeky sense of humour, Ntando was very happy when he was selected to participate in HACT’s Peer Education programme at the beginning of the school year. “I like to be around people and help them overcome challenges so yes, I was excited about learning how to be a Peer Educator,” explains Ntando.
Over the course of this year, Ntando and his fellow Peer Educators have learned not only about important issues such as HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancy and the perils of drug and alcohol abuse, but about why it is important to have a vision and set goals for their futures if they want to achieve their dreams. Much to Ntando’s delight, as part of the programme, they were given opportunities to share what they’ve learned with their peers through a series of awareness events at their school whereby they were responsible for arranging and delivering talks and presentations during morning assemblies and at break times.
Of his own accord, Ntando has also made a point of passing on what he’s learned to some of his close friends, especially those who are starting to experiment with drinking and smoking and who are trying to get into the local taverns. “I have told my friends about the risks of doing these things and my older sister, I’ve told her I worry about her a lot and she needs to have respect for herself.”
In further efforts to motivate and inspire his peers, Ntando also arranged a clothing drive at his school for a local orphanage, something he is very proud of and says “felt good.” Learning how to lead others and helping those less fortunate than himself was a responsibility that Ntando also relished, “I realised I can’t only tell people what they must do, but I must lead by example and show them how to be a better person.”
Ntando says the programme has also changed the way he views his studies and he is now taking them more seriously and listening more carefully during class. “I used to be talking and laughing in class, but now I have a vision for my future and want to go to university so I know I must work harder.”
Along with the other Peer Educators from his school, Ntando is looking forward to HACT's 3-day Leadership camp and meeting Peer Educators from other local high schools. “I want to meet them and see if they have been having the same challenges as us, I think we can learn from each other and I’m looking forward to making new friends.”
In partnership with GOLD (Generation of Leaders Discovered) HACT’s Peer Education programme aims to harness the power of "positive peer pressure". Using an evidence-based model, our facilitators train and mentor influential young leaders, like Ntando who in turn inspire their peers to have a vision for their future and adopt health-enhancing and purpose-driven behaviour that will ultimately enable them to reach their full potential.