It is a known fact that prisons across the country face a number of challenges, which include health- and violence-related concerns. Consequently, Sonke Gender Justice has implemented the prisons project, which focuses on improving the health-seeking behaviours of prisoners in local correctional facilities.
Under the banner and guidance of Sonke Gender Justice, the FNB Fund has supported the Prisons project in the Western Cape for more than two years. Correctional officers are trained as peer educators to act as leaders within the prison community, providing support, education and an example of healthy living to their counterparts.
Sonke is helping to make a difference in the lives of these prisoners. "The programme has not only helped prisoners understand the importance of maintaining good health, but also provided education, training and development, and addresses the challenges that prisoners face on a daily basis," said Howard Arrand, chairman of FNB Fund.
The peer educators offer support in educating their peers and provide support to other inmates that are struggling with health challenges. This interaction facilitates problem solving and can help ensure that inmates access vital medicine, nutrition and testing services.A source of information
Emily Keehn, Sonke Gender Justice manager explained: "Peer education training is so appealing to inmates because its seen as a source of information, which is great. The programme has been well received because Sonke's facilitators approach each and every peer educator with respect. The facilitators constantly strive to be an encouraging presence within correctional communities and, as a result, the demand for trainings has consistently risen over the years."
Peer educators are trained over a four-day period by experienced Sonke facilitators. Health areas that are covered in the course include education on HIV/AIDS, TB, contraception, sexually transmitted infections and an understanding of gender.