In 2001 I took my first trip to Africa with Penny Salazar, author of A Season to Heal when Barbara Porter invited us to train Pregnancy Center volunteers in Kampala, Uganda. Over 50 men and women from all over Uganda traveled to Kampla for the training. It was my first experience teaching in a cross cultural environment and I was not sure whether the training would be applicable in African cultures. It turns out that our need to learn to minister and not manipulate is universal and the men and women of Uganda embraced the training curriculum with great enthusiasm.
We then traveled to South Africa to a small town outside of Johannesburg to a National Youth For Christ Conference. There I met and trained staff from a variety of Pregnancy Centres from all over the continent of Africa. I met Gillian Frame and Norma Troutman (now Norma Theron), staff from a Pregnancy Care Center in the Cape Town area, who were familiar with some of the Equipped to Serve Training and came to learn more about the curriculum. The three of us forged a long and lasting friendship. It was there that I also met Laurie Edwall, the Director of Options, a Pregnancy Centre in George, SA who was also interested in using the ETS materials.
We all decided that there was some changes that needed to be made in the manual(s) for the South African volunteers in order to meet the needs of their clients. I worked closely with Gillian Frame to make changes to the Case Studies and some of the practice exercises. Soon the material was ready for use and by the year 2002 I returned to South Africa for the first of many years of training for Volunteer and Trainers.
In 2002 Pregnancy Center Staff and Volunteers came from all over South Africa, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Zambia to the first International Equipped to Serve Training in South Africa. The training took place in Somerset West, South Africa a town near Cape Town. I conducted the Volunteer Training for the first week. The second week I trained Trainers to be able to take the ETS curriculum back to their own Centres. We focused on the importance of the Seven Fundamentals and adult learning theory. It is during this trip that I began working with Africa Cares for Life the National Pregnancy Centre organization.
Since it was often financially difficult for Pregnancy Centre staff and volunteers to travel for training, so in 2003 we took the training to three different locations around South Africa. Gillian Frame and I took to the road and conducted three trainings over a three week period. I trained Equipped to Serve and she trained volunteers for post abortion healing and recovering groups. We trained in Johannesburg, Amanzimtoti a seaside town which is near Durban, and George which is on the eastern coast of South Africa. It was an amazing and glorious trip around South Africa. We rented a car and drove which gave me the opportunity to see most of the country. I fell truly, madly, deeply in love with South Africa. We conducted our last week of training at the retreat center near George called Carmel. It is a beautiful retreat Center that overlooks the Indian Ocean from atop some high cliffs. I could look down into Victoria Bay, the famous surfing beach. It was glorious!
Soon the ETS training began to spread beyond just the Pregnancy Care ministry. A variety of churches and ministries who conducted HIV/AIDS training and counselling were expressing interest in using the ETS training. In order to meet this need we created a generic form of the manual that could be used in a variety of counselling situations, called The Ministry of Listening. GOLD, a peer education organization, approached me about using the ETS curriculum in their peer education training. We began to realize the need to equip Trainers who could train Equipped to Serve within their various organizations. There was also a need to connect with the Directors and Trainers who had been trained over the past several years for encouragement and refreshment. So in 2004 I returned to South Africa to train 26 more Trainers and to visit the previously trained Pregnancy Care Center staff in George and Johannesburg to offer support, encouragement and refreshment. I was able to visit some of the Pregnancy Care Centres' programs such as income-generating crafting projects and baby care ministries. I visited women who were making greeting cards in George and a Baby Care facility in Johannesburg.
In 2005 I was invited to speak at a retreat for Pregnancy Centre volunteers in the Southern Cape. We stayed in an old train which was challenging but memorable. It was a wonderful time of encouragement and refreshment for all who attended. After the retreat, two friends joined me, Marilyn Schneiderman, the Client Services Director from a Pregnancy Center in Iowa, and Penny Salazar. Penny taught workshops on post abortion healing and recovery and Marilyn was my prayer warrior and assisted me with the ETS training. We conducted a week of volunteer training in Cape Town and in Pretoria. We also undertook a filming project in Rustenberg where the ETS training was videotaped while I taught a group of volunteers from the Rustenberg area. It was an amazing time. During this visit ETS created a relationship with Connect Network a newly formed organization that networks and provides resources for organizations addressing the needs of women and vulnerable children.
It would be almost three years before I returned to South Africa. In 2008 I returned to train more Trainers. The training took place at a beautiful retreat Center called Ziz in Wilderness which is along the eastern coast of South Africa. Our hostess, Eileen was amazing and being together for a week helped us bond as a group. After the Training the Trainer in wilderness we were back in Somerset West. I observed as the newly- trained Trainers facilitated training to two different groups. One group was using the Pregnancy Manual to train Volunteers for Pregnancy Centre work. The other group was using the generic manual (The Ministry of Listening) to train volunteers in other ministries and organizations. It was a little crazy running back and forth between the trainings but all the Trainers did very well and we all learned a LOT.
Another three years would pass. The need for training in South Africa was continuing to grow. I had equipped Trainers but more and more organizations wanted to have staff be trained as trainers. It was now time to train Master Trainers who would be able to conduct the Training the Trainer Seminars. So in February of 2011 I returned to South Africa. This trip was to have a three-tiered approach to ETS training. The first week of training I would train 8 men and women who had been teaching ETS curriculum for a number of years. They were thoroughly familiar with the content and were now ready to train others to be trainers. These men and women would become my ETS Master Trainers in South Africa. The second week of training the Master Trainers taught 28 men and women from a variety of ministries and organizations how to train using the ETS curriculum. I observed and coached from the sidelines. During the third week of training some of the newly trained Trainers were observed as they facilitated a volunteer training in the Cape Town area. Two of the Master Trainers observed and coached and I observed the Master Trainers. Whew! It was a crazy three weeks of training but in the end more ETS training will be available in South Africa. I then traveled to Springs, South Africa where I shared the duties of volunteer training with Sharon Rushton, a Pregnancy Center director from the Johannesburg area.
So now we officially have begun ETS-South Africa. With Connect Network and Africa Cares for Life and a few Master Trainers, we are hoping to provide training materials as well as training for Volunteers and Trainers throughout South Africa.