“Wesizwe will definitely be running the programme on an ongoing basis as we scale up in terms of resourcing. This HIV/Aids awareness training is included as part of our training and development initiatives,” the company’s human resources and organisational development consultant, Marlain Polovin, tells Mining Weekly.
Together with Sinqobile, the company’s training service provider, Wesizwe conducted a pretraining assessment to determine the level of knowledge of HIV/Aids among its staff. The assessment questionnaire consisted of questions relating to HIV/Aids knowledge, behaviour, attitudes and values.
Sixteen employees at the site participated in the assessment. The outcome of the assessment showed that 98% of the staff had little knowledge with regard of HIV/Aids, and, therefore, there was a need to implement such a programme.
Employees attended lectures every Friday for two hours, which, the company notes, was the “beginning of a holistic wellness programme that will be accelerated as Wesizwe expands into shaft sinking and steady-state production”.
Polovin says that the feedback received from staff was positive.
“Staff reported back that the awareness programme was about acquiring knowledge and forming attitudes and beliefs about relationships as well as intimacy. “More importantly, it provided knowledge about the development of people skills in order to make informed decisions about their behaviour so that they could act on the right choices and live by them. The kind of skills they developed during the sex education part of the programme included listening, negotiating, and decision-making,” she adds.
The key issues that emerged from the training sessions included human rights, women’s rights, stigma and denial, lack of edu- cation or knowledge, women carrying the burden of care, and reviewing sexual customs and norms.
Wesizwe notes in its latest annual report that it will be introducing a programme that will initially concentrate on training three counsellors who will be brought into these awareness sessions in the primary schools around Ledig; the session will be conducted in partnership with the Bakubung-Ba-Ratheo traditional council.She
adds: “The long-term objective is to approach the pandemic holistically. The strategy will be broadened in line with Wesizwe’s own expansion. It will eventually cover voluntary testing and counselling, and identification and training of peer educators from the community, who will ulti- mately become HIV/Aids counsellors allocated specific areas in the community.”
She maintains that it will be an integral part of Wesizwe’s employee wellbeing strategy going forward, especially as the com- pany expands its workforce.
Staff also have access to counselling and support through Discovery Health Medical Aid in terms of Discovery’s HIV/Aids management programme. Through this programme, they are offered unlimited antiretroviral therapy once they register, and each person is assigned a case manager, who follows up with them regularly to ensure they get the appropriate support and counselling.
Once Wesizwe ramps up in terms of employee numbers, employee wellness days will be incorporated in its wellness focus.
“On the whole, the HIV/Aids awareness programme was received in a positive light by the staff and we look forward to being able to continue with this initiative,” Polovin concludes.