The Bulungula Incubator constantly ensures that its staff members are trained and developed to meet the growing needs of their projects. On the 21 – 24 August, the BI has again embarked on Persona Dolls training for their 14 ECD Practitioners and 24 Home -Based Carers. Persona Doll Training is an innovative non-threatening approach which assists people to talk about and deal with issues that impact on the lives of children and adults including health, HIV/AIDS, gender, racism, language, culture, faith, social issues, disability (www.persona-doll-training.org). The Dolls are given a personality and used to promote psychosocial development of children, encourage empathy and to address issues of diversity and inclusion.
Sue Rosie, an experienced Persona Doll trainer, facilitated training. The trainees were given an opportunity to give the Doll an identity such as name and surname, cultural background, family history, interests and dislikes. Because the trainees are only speaking isiXhosa, the facilitator was assisted by Lindiwe Tukani and Nomzingisi Hopisi with interpretation, which made the training more understandable.
Funeka Jija, Jujurha Preschool Principal and Grade R teacher, was asked by the trainer to demonstrate the use of Persona Dolls in a real class setting and observers (trainees) would comment afterwards. The Grade R children were excited to see the “visitor” – a Persona Doll named Thabang. They were interested to hear what Thabang had to say and asked questions and commented during the demonstration. This role play showcased the importance of preparation before using the Persona Doll and encouraged creativity by the presenter and stimulated the imaginations of the observers.
Practitioners and Home Based Carers enjoyed the training and felt it was the best way to encourage people and children to talk about issues. Some of the trainees acknowledge the fact that they would have not felt free to address sensitive issues if they were to talk without the “help” of the Dolls – talking through Dolls makes it easier. One of the ECD Practitioners said, “I am so glad to have learned this approach because I did not know how to address the issue of bullying in class but now I feel I am equipped to do it.”
There will be follow-up sessions to empower the trainees further in the use of Persona Dolls.