My name is Pauline Abuor also known among friends and colleagues as Paula. I work for this organization that deals with reproductive health and male circumcision as a way of reducing HIV infection up to 60% in men. I work in the research department called the circumcision Impact study (CIRCIS). This study is about people’s perceptions and beliefs on the impact of male circumcision as a way of HIV reduction and also HIV/Aids uptake within communities that don’t practice male circumcision in Kenya. I have been privilege to represent the findings from the first circle of the study also known as CIRCIS 1 at the International Conference hosted by Nairobi University in February 2011 and at the provincial level Dissemination at Nyanza province, in Kisumu town in December 2010 respectively. My organization has worked well to support gay related activities like KIPE-that support MSM on health issues, HIV/Aids care and support etc.
On the other side I am a Human rights activit. I use this skills within the LGBTI community of which I am a member and the vice chair for the WSW group called Women Working with Women (3W) this is a Lesbian, Bisexual, Transsexual and Intersex group. The group consists of about 50 women who live in Kisumu and beyond. The group was formed in 2010 but has been in operation informally for over 2 years. 3W’s mission is to secure and protect the rights of Lesbian Bisexual Transgender and Intersex (LBTI) women; to ensure that LBTI women have: full rights over themselves and their bodies, the right to self accomplishment and development, full and equal protection of the law and real freedom from discrimination and violence.
Summary of Activities:
Since its formation, 3W has been able to organize activities from workshops to social gatherings as follows:
- Outreach program organized by Minority Women in Action in 2009. These meetings enable many of the ladies to meet, socialized while learning more about women health issues and general issues that concerned LBTI women.
- Launching of the MSM study in Kisumu in 2010. This meeting brought together all LGBTIs in Kisumu. It was great encouragement for many to know that they are not alone and also provided a safe place for all.
- LGBTI bash in Kisumu in 2010 that I hosted in my house and attended by the whole community. Provided bonding and safe space for us to socialize.
- Human right training at KIPE organized by Gay Kenya in 2010. We got a chance to know more about our rights
- Human Right Training at KIPE organized by Human Rights Commission of Kenya in 2010. Knowing more about our rights enable many to take bolder steps into the mean society.
- Homosexuality and Religion workshop organized by the Other Sheep of Kenya in 2010 in 2010. Learnt about all the lies about from religious people and the misinterpretations from the bible. This increased confidence in most people and therefore ability to accept one self.
- World Aids day 2010. Reach out creating awareness and being part of the world which strengthens our allies with other organizations.
- Continues hospitality to LGBTI visitors in Kisumu region. This has been great in getting to share and know more of what is happening in the rest of the world.
- Movies and dance lessons start already 2011. Source of bonding and learning to most of us especially in the area of identities majority of members just know about Lesbians and Bisexual but when it comes to transgender and Intersex we learnt so much from what we watch.
- Sign several petitions for LGBTI rights 2011.
- Participated in Meeting organized by Coalition of African Lesbians 2011. Learn about what CAL does and about other LBTI groups that we would partner with in future. Created group relationship that continues to spread information on LGBTI issues
- Participated in East Africa- Human Rights Defenders meeting 2011. Learnt how protection of human right defenders and formation of aliases is necessary
- Participated in Boot Camp organized by Fahamu and Uhai learning how to build queer movement in Africa.
- Participated in the IDAHO day that was organized in the western region for the first time.
Many of our members are challenged in terms of health issues especially HIV/Aids, which is one of our great concern. Attending this conference will empower me and the others members with knowledge and skills on how to handle health issues that is otherwise a challenge since we live under stigma in healthcare centers. I will be a great opportunity to share with others how they handle situations like this and to find ways to deal with such situations. I and the other members will gather experience and knowledge on issues of HIV/Aids and learn more on public relations with people of diverse communities. In western region where we are situated, this is the only women organization of its kind of WSW and this conference shall be a huge steeping stone for women in this western region to learn self identity and ways of handling issues as a community brought together in a special way.
We are still a small and vulnerable community trying to stand on our feet in an areas embraced with stigma. Kindly allow me the opportunity of making a change in the LGBTI community and others who need the knowledge that changes lives that I will acquire at the conference. I am looking forward to a positive response.