A day in the life of a TZN trainerMelanie Mokgatla
In an effort to give you a peek into our Work Readiness Courses at The Zanokhanyo Network, I’ve interviewed one of our trainers. I hope this look into “the day in the life of a trainer” will give you practical ways to pray and understand the ministry our trainers are involved in daily.
Meagan Daniels is a mobile access point Senior Trainer with TZN. She sat and shared with me the things that our trainers face and celebrate during their courses. Here’s some great insights from Meagan about being a trainer.
Melanie: Tell me what a normal training day looks like for you.
Meagan: At 6:15 my commute begins. Our trainers live all over the city: Delft, Muizenberg, Hanover Park, Langa, Pinelands, Sun Valley, and many use public transport. We meet at 8:00am at our Observatory for team check-ins and then the mobile team travels to their training access point. From 9 am – 3:30 we are busy with training. After that access point trainers travel back to the main office for feedback, admin and reporting. Our work day finishes at 4:30, but many of us only get home after a long commute on unreliable transport.
Melanie: Since your trainings happen within the communities (at different venues and locations every 3 weeks), what are the advantages and challenges of taking TZN into communities around our city?
Meagan: Firstly, taking training into community spaces is exciting. We get to see firsthand where our students live and we experience some of the same challenges they face. We are able to get a better understanding of their day to day challenges, e.g. the unreliable public transport, community protests that leave us unable to enter or exit the community, and language barriers.
We also get the privilege to equip and encourage relationships in the community. By us bringing the course to a church or NGO, we provide an opportunity for pastors and leaders to have interaction with students that might not have been willing to come to their venue before. We spend 3 weeks with this group and encourage the local leaders to continue relationships with the students after the course is over. Our course is highly relational and steeped in the Gospel, so we hope students want to grow their relationship with Christ and be part of a spiritual home in their community. These external trainings position faith communities to pick up where we leave off!
Melanie: Your curriculum is very strategic and covers a lot of ground. What are some of the hardest topics to train and why?
Meagan: Day 2, “Emotional Healing” is always a hard day. We deal with overcoming trauma and living forgiveness as foundations of being job-ready. On this day, students give us a snapshot of the pain and difficulties they have faced. We hear a lot of hard stories of injustice and loss of hope. But thankfully, through these sessions, some students have come back and told us that they’ve taken steps to have hard conversations with those they needed to forgive. This lifts emotional burdens that often stunt their ability to move forward in life. Students have also said, “I’ve never shared my story with anyone but I felt this was a safe space where I could be heard.”
Day 5, “Stumbling Blocks on the Journey”, is also a hard topic to carry. Students share community issues, injustices that they’re trying to overcome and it can become a venting session about feeling displaced, unseen, overlooked, or lack of hope or power to overcome.
That’s huge trust and burden for a trainer. You have to know how to hold this ‘sharing space’ and also how to encourage them in their journey, not feeling you must ‘fix’ everything. Trainers guide students to move forward with hope and to not getting stuck in their current situation. Throughout the course, students refer back to this foundational day and work through wellness and identity in Christ. If the case is too much for a trainer to handle, we refer the student to other resources, pastoral counselling and/or the NGO/church that we’re partnering with.
Melanie: These stories and hard situations have to weigh heavily on the trainers? How do you deal with all that a class brings emotionally?
Meagan: Trainers are frequently emotionally spent. The emotional, mental and spiritual burden a trainer carries is actually heavy. I often ponder the trauma stories on my commute home – calming myself down from the passion I feel about the horrific past and present of our students. Trainers can very quickly experience secondary trauma and need a place to process and cope with the stories we hear. TZN does a good job of making sure the trainers have access to counselling and wellness days, but the stories told are REAL to the trainers. We can’t help but have empathy for those that are right in our faces, in our classrooms, struggling to be fully present because they’re carrying hurt or hunger or hopelessness.
Melanie: Within all this hopelessness you see and hear, I’ve heard that there are great successes within the course. Tell us about the end of a course and the change you see in many of your students.
Meagan: The journey from beginning to end of the 3 weeks is unbelievable. Students form friendships, they’re introduced to the Gospel and its power, and they have been equipped with skills for life.
Graduation is where we hear about the student’s experience. On Day 12 of the course, students participate in their TZN Graduation. They dress up, invite friends and family and have a ceremony. There’s an encouragement from a pastor, students share their “how TZN impacted me” story and we’re always so amazed at how God has worked and moved within individuals. Many who have come in with despair, leave with new outlooks and a new identity.
Melanie: So how can we support a trainer?
Meagan: The skill of being job-ready is important, but transformation at a heart-level is most important. As Christians, we know that heart-change transforms the whole family, individual attitudes, community involvement, personal identity, and confidence, which can shift the trajectory of the individual.
- Pray for the specific training days as they happen
- Send notes to the training teams – giving words of encouragement, scriptures or prophetic words
- Volunteer to help during a training
- Come lead a devotion or bring a word of encouragement
- Pray for the TZN Sessions while a course is happening (Tues – Fri, 9am-3:30pm)
Melanie: Thanks for sharing, Meagan! It’s wonderful to hear how you and the TZN trainers are serving our city and how we can support you in your work.
What a story! We hope you’ve gotten a clearer picture of the valuable work that the TZN Trainers participate in on a daily basis. They’re taking the hope of Christ to communities many of us will never have reason or opportunity to visit. We’d encourage you to pray as the spirit leads and get involved in supporting the work of TZN!
Here are other ways you can support TZN and its work to place graduates in meaningful work opportunities:
- While you’re out and about, take a picture of a job ad you see and send it to the TZN Whatsapp number: 063 014 8514. Be on the lookout while you’re shopping, at a restaurant, on social media etc
- Know of a business, industry, or employment opportunity? Send a message to 063 014 8514 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- LIKE The Zanokhanyo Network’s Facebook page or join the TZN Graduates Opportunities Facebook page. This will enable the members to keep updated about TZN and post available opportunities for our graduates.
- Check out the TZN website for more info or share the website to those you think could get involved.