Hand in hand with training African caregivers is a focus on training African trainers. The purpose of training trainers (TOT) is simple: to multiply the effects of the training. ICARA is able to train many caregivers, social workers, educators, and others directly. However, if our efforts stopped there, many organizations serving vulnerable children would not be reached. When ICARA trains trainers, those trainers then go into their organizations and communities to train others, multiplying the number of caregivers and other adults reached, and thus, the number of vulnerable children impacted by the ICARA training indirectly. For example, in 2013, Patrice trained more than 40 trainers in Ethiopia, who represented organizations caring for over 85,000 children. Those trainers would not be caring for that number of children, but those they trained would.

Further, because they share the culture and language of both the caregivers and the children in care, they are able to effectively communicate, respond to cultural norms that may either hinder or help in the effort, and develop the relationships that support the caregivers in their contexts. As a truly collaborative effort, trainers may develop ideas and direction that would not be obvious to someone not imbedded in the culture.

Three important components form the training of trainers (TOT):

  • ensuring that the trainers understand the concepts and can communicate them clearly and effectively
  • implementing interventions with a wide range of child case examples, so that the trainers can understand the applicability of the interventions and use them for the benefit of OVCs in various settings
  • encouraging a method of teaching that is highly nurturing and engaging with participants, so that the participants feel supported and valued as "front line" responders to orphaned and vulnerable children--note: this mirrors the warm, supportive engagement we want caregivers to have with the children!)
  • throughout TOT, we encourage trainers to practice, practice, practice so that the material is experienced and used, rather than simply taught/learned

Often those trained are already trainers with various organizations serving children at risk, including Compassion International in Kenya, CDTRC in Ethiopia, and Sentebale in Lesotho. ICARA is very excited that its trainees view this training as one that changes hearts and minds toward the children in care. Whatever the trainers' backgrounds and positions, we also encourage them to form local "communities of practice"--groups of like-minded child caregivers who continue to share their experiences, support one another, offer insights and develop ideas with each other, and work to change existing structures and programs to better meet the heart needs of children. .

ICARA is very excited to be a part of a process in which local practices, organizational structures and processes, and government policy and intervention strategies may all be impacted by the training provided.