Profiles, Reflections & Visions – Report on LGBTI Group Workings in Nyanza, Western
Kenya & Rift Valley
Nyanza Rift Valley Western Kenya (NYARWEK) the regional LGBTI coalition based in Kisumu conceived the idea to reach out to the LGBTI individuals, partner groups within Western, Nyanza & Rift Valley region of Kenya in order to develop the existing relationships and coordinate workings and organization. It was also necessary for the groups to take stock and find the way forward in preparation of the CFCS by UHAI EASHRI meeting slated for May 2013 and to evaluate the baseline survey study on LGBTI organization in this region of Kenya.
NYARWEK was formed in 2009 as a regional coalition organization based in Kisumu that seeks to build capacities, integrate views and advocate for the rights of the LGBTI member groups. It is registered as a civil service organization under the Ministry of Gender & Social Services. The acronym LGBTI under the registration stands for “Let Good Be Told In us” to avoid legal and security challenges.
Currently, Nyarwek has 17 member groups who are involved in a myriad of activities around health, human rights, art
& expression, advocacy and support groups for the LGBTI and sex worker populations in the region.
Against the background of the temporary closure of Kenya’s national coalition GALCK and the tireless efforts of the transitioning team in the solid attempts at salvaging and restoring the crucial national organization, NYARWEK felt the need to step in and boost the LGBTI movement psyche by providing some much-needed action and direction. NYARWEK and its members laud the efforts made to restore the national coalition and hope that it bolsters the Kenyan movement to progress even further.
To this end, NYARWEK came up with an initiative to reach out to its member groups and inviting them for a two- day forum in order to discuss organizing, programs and activities in the region. It is during this meeting that the groups validated the cross cutting issues and formed synergies and a joint way forward and set of plan of actions.
A survey in form of a questionnaire was disseminated to all the 17 LGBTI member groups of NYARWEK via e-mail subsequent to which a 2 day meeting was held on 21-22 May 2013 to reflect and map the way forward in movement building.
The questionnaire questions focused on drawing out the groups, their constituencies, their objectives, main activities, achievements, challenges, partners if any, strategies and the way forward.
These conversations, convening, discussions and dialogue between various group representatives and the regional coalition bore fruit in echoing and acknowledging common goals or challenges; parallel or divergent activities and other commonalities and divergences that then paved way for the groups to see the need to partner, create synergies, merge and develop clusters that can enrich their work.
It is important to mention that the groups in this coalition include urban, peri-urban and rural groups who are based in remote parts of the country. Majority of the groups are not based large towns or cities that is a unique aspect to organizing in Kenya.
Some of the groups also specialize in combating alcohol and substance abuse and domestic violence within the LGBTI populations and this is a groundbreaking in LGBTI movement organizing in Kenya.
Outcomes of the Survey
Pillars was established in 2011 by four college mates who met in Kakamega. Their vision was to have a society of inclusion and acceptance of all human beings and sensitize issues around bisexuality through advocacy & trainings. The group is not registered and it mainly targets the bisexual population of the LGBTI populations. Pillar is one of only two bisexual-focused groups in Kenya the other one being Purple Haze. The geographical reach of the group is Mumias (72kms from Kisumu city), Muhoroni, (50kms from Kisumu) Kyega, Shinyala.
Currently the group has membership of 21 including 3 lesbians who are fairly inactive in day-to- day activities. The group works in the following broad thematic areas; education, health, human rights advocacy, economic empowerment
Pillars main activities include:
- Advocating for application of human rights without discrimination based on bisexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression in areas of: education, employment, family, health and
- Offering educational and learning opportunities and providing information and outreach to everybody regardless of their sexual
- Providing a safe, non-threatening atmosphere for open discussion and social interaction thus acting as a
social/support group for bisexuals in Western Kenya region.
Some of Pillars main challenges include the lack of an office and meeting space. Most group meetings take place in a public park Masinde Muliro Gardens in Kakamega town (42kms from Kisumu). Further, there is a marked lack of visibility of bisexuals under the LGBTI umbrella movement that poses a disadvantage. The group’s resources are very limited and they lack administrative and managerial skills to help in the groups organizing.
Pillar’s major achievement is increasing their membership from 4 to 21 in two years. The group has also managed to partner with SAPTA, Purprle Haze, NYARWEK, Ministry of Health in Kakamega & KIPE. KIPE was the first partner to provide them with condoms and lubricant and it was eye opening as most members did not know how to use them and took the opportunity to learn and subsequently incorporate safe sex.
What are the group strategies or organizational capacity to curb challenges faced?
The group hopes to significantly contribute to raising awareness and promoting better understanding of bisexuals across Western Kenya.
- Realization of health awareness within the bisexual in relation to HIV/AIDS, opportunities
- To engage with all LGBTI in understanding the issues in relations to
- Introduction of different research programs
- Advocating for the voice of bisexuals in the society by introducing different
Pillars recommended priority focus of the regional & national organizations like NYARWEK & GALCK and their pledge of support
The national coalition should incorporate all the groups within Kenya so as to have a national voice and not specific Nairobi organizations. No LGBTI groups in Kenya should be left out of the national coalition.
Bungoma Life Ambassadors
The group began in 2012 with 3 members who wanted to support each other as LGBTI individuals. It began initially as a support group as the members increased they decided to change their name to Bungoma Life Ambassadors.
Together, the members go for referrals for HIV testing and counseling by visiting a VCT every month. They access the services posing as straight so as to get service. The group’s geographical reach is Bungoma (76kms from Kisumu) and it is open to LGBTI persons, sex workers male and female. Their current membership is 30 MSM, 4 lesbians who have since then relocated to Nairobi and 2 female sex workers. Some of the members organize to scout for job openings and update members incase opportunities arise.
Bungoma Life Ambassador’s main organizational needs include lack of funds, human resource, job creation opportunities for members and lack of peer led education trainings.
The group’s successes & achievements include their coming together to form a group and electing officials and a group, as Bungoma is an extremely conservative and homophobic town. They were also able to analyze and discuss viable business opportunities in Bungoma. A few work opportunities have come up that the group sought and some members benefitted from. Some of the hindrances the Group Faces include financial instability and constraints, homophobic society, the lack of work of some of the members. In order to curb the organizational capacity challenges, the group intends to give more members responsibilities so as to have more agency on the goings on of the activities and projects. There is also a plan in the works to approach donors and microfinance institution for seed funding and support so as to implement their activities. The group also plans to constantly carry out sensitization society to reduce homophobia.
Future Plans of Bungoma Life Ambassador include opening an LGBTI friendly VCT Centre and to operate a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre that can provide treatment from those in the community adversely affected by addictions.
Bungoma Life Ambassadors recommended priority focus of the regional & national organizations like NYARWEK & GALCK and their pledge of support
The coalitions should provide support and assist groups identify and secure partnerships and funding opportunity.
Ranen is a member services group that was established in 2010 with the objective to educate society on health matters with a focus on HIV/AIDS and STI’s awareness. It also hopes to eradicate the stigma and isolation among the LGBTI’s population affect by HIV/AIDs. The group main ambition is to ensure that the LGBTI population fit into society and are not
oppressed. The geographical reach of the group is Ranen Division and Kisumu County. The group hopes to expand and reach out to more parts of the region to amplify its work. The group hopes to form a coalition and linkages with bigger organizations to enhance their sensitization objectives. Currently the group membership number is 21.
Its main constituents include LGBTI persons, female sex workers, vulnerable/most at risk persons and those in society who are uninformed in matters around sexual minorities rights and issues
The group main activities include conducting health talks and discussions on drug and substance abuse, providing counseling services and giving a safe platform for talent shows to expose and encourage member strengths and skills.
Ranen group organization needs include having a drop off centre or office space. The also need economic empowering initiatives around business ideas and work opportunities for their members to tap into and heighten their living standards.
So far, the group has registered several achievements such as identifying and educating LGBTI persons in Ranen, fighting to eradicate stigma of isolation and ‘othering’ within the LGBTI community. Ranen group in partnership with health institutions who supply safe sex products for distribution. Further, the group members have a merry-go-round to help put together funds for personal projects. The group has made strides in pushing the male circumcision initiative in the region to reduce risk of infections.
The major challenges they face is the homophobic society and family pressure that members have to face and deal with constantly. The rejection and ignorance of society on the oppressions faced by the LGBTI prove to be heavy burdens to bear. The lack of financial stability of the group members is disheartening.
The group has opted to venture to approach family members and encourage acceptance and understanding in an effort to bridge hostility. They also hope to start microfinance activities in the near future that can help members tap into.
Currently the group collaborates with WOPCHA, a group based in Uriri and IMPACT RDO.
Future Plans for Ranen include improving the living standards of their members and having more outreach and mobilizing activities to increase the membership and prove useful to the LGBTI population in the area.
Ranen group’s recommended priority focus of the regional & national organizations like NYARWEK & GALCK and their pledge of support
“In order to improve bonding and build networking, Nyarwek should conduct recreational activities that involve all the member groups. Further, it is important for both NYARWEK & GALCK to carry out testing drives for the LGBTI community to encourage more to be aware of their status and their treatment and preventive options.”
WOPCHA stands for World Posture Changes and the group was established in 2010 with 7 founding members to advance the health rights of GMT & its allies and to combat stigma & discrimination faced within the community & by health service providers. This is achieved by creating individual understanding around sexual orientation and health rights care focusing on STIs & HIV/AIDS related care & treatment as well information. The group’s main target populations are those who identify as albinos, gay, MSM and trans persons and their allies. The group main geographical reach is the Awendo sugar belt right up to the Kenya-Tanzania border Sirari in Tanzania. The membership number now stands at 14.
WOPCHA’s vision is to have a society in which GMT & its allies are economically, politically
& human rights empowered & accessing health for all. Its main mission is to exist so as to empower the network to plan, co-ordinate & effect activities to initiate a stronger, healthier
&social in which the agenda of safer sex understanding & human right advocacy become mutually accepted norm within the community at large.
The group’s main activities mainly focus on talks on health awareness, for instance, discussions on how to prevent or curb STI and HIV/AIDS among the marginalized populations. They also emphasize and assert condom use, distribute lubricants and provide PHDP. The group provides information on HIV/AIDS and STI’s and conduct follow-ups if need be.
Currently the organization needs to further their work include having lubricants and condoms, IECT material to distribute in their activities. They also need training information tools that can aid their activities on HIV/AIDS awareness. From supplies like flipcharts, PHDP, booklets with the latest information, STI screening and treatment centre with HTC services that are inclusive is very necessary
For now, the group achievements include the fact that members and clients have been accessing condoms, lubricants and HIV/AIDS & STI information freely. In the Migori region, they have managed to reach out to 101 individuals. Through the efforts of WOPCHA, a new PHDP group has emerged called CASANOVA.
Some of the deterrents to the group’s work has been the scarcity of condoms and lubricant. It has also sometimes proven difficult to distribute or reach new clients and members in the area. The group has not had much luck in proposal writing and fund raising. Perhaps the most difficult hindrance is the security of the members and the clients.
In an effort to overcome these tribulations, the group has pledged to organize more forums to grow. They also seek to conduct more one on one peer education to those in the community. To tackle the security concerns, WOPCHA will seek to partner with security bodies.
Currently collaborating partners include IMPACT – RDO, Ranen & Ministry of Health. The organization hopes to work on how their clients and members can access their services seamlessly. They also hope to reach out to MSM and IDU populations between the Kenya and
Tanzania border towns and enhance the security of its members and clients.
Ranen group’s recommended priority focus of the regional & national organizations like NYARWEK & GALCK and their pledge of support
“Organisations should emphasize on PHDP as it is a necessary area of concern for the LGBTI community and WOPCHA would be happy to participate in this initiatives.”
PLAG-IN stands for Proud Lesbians and Gays Intersex and Transgender. While the B for the bisexual is not present in the name itself the group is inclusive to all LGBTI. Positive Living HIV/AIDS Group is the name used for registration purposes, the group was formed and registered in 2011. The group’s vision is to morally up lift the lives of the LGBTI in our community so that they may live proudly.
PLAG-IN members are mostly male gay and bisexuals and most of their members are attached in heterosexual unions. They therefore identify as bisexual due to cultural hindrances, pressures and constraints. There are also a small number of lesbians in the group. The group’s Mission is to seek to empower the LGBTI socially, economically and health wise. Its geographical reach is Kericho county, Bomet and Kipkelion. The area is mainly has Kipsigis community who are very conservative and are not tolerant towards LGBTI issues. Current membership is 10 as some members relocated and others are underground afraid of being active in light of the insular society.
The group main activities revolve around empowering the members economically and providing them skills that enhances their ability to be self-reliant.
PLAG-IN organizational requirements include capacity building and system strengthening of their newly formed group. The members and the groups need economic empowerment projects to raise funds. The group also feels the need to acquire stronger advocacy skills and nurture the ability to speak out regarding their human rights causes.
The organization has had some success in addressing cases of blackmail and extortion which is a common blight in the LGBTI movement. It has also began certain income generating activities for some of the members. They were also successful in getting funds from TOWA to work with MARPS and build their organizational capacity.
The main challenges are the vast distances in places they work. It is also a hostile area to work in. One of their partners Walter Reed Project who were working with the group inadvertently outed them, endangering their lives perhaps due to oversight or lack of understanding how the groups worked in a rural setting, all the same the result was devastating. One member of the community lost his life after another LGBTI individual allegedly killed him, this was a huge blow to the group. A lot of time is spent writing proposals that do not bear fruit and this is very discouraging.
Some of the ways PLAG in has strategized to deal with these challenges include incorporating a local approach to create opportunity for LGBTI to articulate their needs and show how they can be effective participants in this response rather be passive recipients.
Clarify and challenge the stereotypes of LGBTI in the region through ensuring they receive services and work towards shifting social norms towards LGBTI.
In collaborative approaches the group can learn from the experiences of other LGBTI persons in the region (regardless of their HIV status). Further, identify what is being done already or elsewhere that can be usefully adopted in the group and to avoid duplication of activities and efforts with other groups.
So far the group has collaborated with NYARWEK as a main partner and are open to seeking new groups and individuals to work with.
PLAG IN envisions to set up LGBTI friendly centres in there are and have more open forum discussions with the community. The group also needs VCT services to help serve the LGBTI community in the area. They also hope to concertedly fund raise for their activities.
Survivors Self Help Group (Busia)
Survivor Self Help Group – Busia is under an organisation of sex workers called Survivors. The idea behind the group began when the founding member who is MSM attended a moonlight VCT organised by female sex workers in the area From then on the idea to start a group open to
MSM populations was conceived. The group seeks to implement prevention of the spread of HIV/AIDS and STI among the MSM in the society. The geographical reach for this group is the Busia/Kisumu highway, Busia and its outskirts like Bunyala, Mbala and Matios. There are 30 members with 15 of them being active in the groups activities and are openly out.
The group seeks to working together in achievement of KNASP III Goals of:
The main activities for the groups include providing health consultations and provision of VCT services to members. Non-members wish to be included in this service but due to lack of sufficient and funds we have some constraints in capacity. The group also participates in social activities including modeling and dancing shows and in sports activities like netball.
Presently, the organisation needs office space, funds to support their programmes and increased networks and linkages with other groups to boost their impact.
One of the achievements the group is proud of is assisting their members who are in denial of their status how to come to terms with the adjustments. The group has also carried out successful mapping of statistics in the region. The group also managed to get anal screening services through the health services for FSW – LVCT. There have been concerted efforts to sensitize the community following the example set out by the female sex workers in Busia who engaged with the police to promote their security by establishing a GBV help desk to report attacks. This has gone a long way encouraging the MSM to be aware of their rights and assertive.
Some of the challenges faced include discrimination in accessing health services. MSM and their family members face a lot of homophobia from bodaboda operators. The LGBTI and sex worker community face a lot of discrimination and are shunned in social places like clubs and churches.
In an effort to overcome these challenges, the group plans to conduct training sessions with opposing groups to help sensitize them on issues around sexual minority rights.
Some of the upcoming plans include expanding the group membership and expanding friendly health service providers. The group also intends on initiating income-generating activities to enhance the standard of living. They also plan to raise their voices to advocate for the LGBTI populations in Busia. The group also hopes to find autonomy as they rely too much on the structures that the female sex workers have organised and established.
Survivors Self Help Group – Busia’s recommended priority focus of the regional & national organizations like NYARWEK & GALCK and their pledge of support
“We need national coalition that has a voice for the whole nation.”
Kisumu Shiners group
The group was established to focus on male sex workers whether they were gay, bisexual or heterosexual. The organisation is a CBO that aims to empower male sex workers in Kisumu city with myriad of health, legal & economic knowledge and skills to ultimately enable them lead sustainable and healthy lives. It is hosted by Aegis Development Group and has a total of 40 members, 20 of whom are very active. The geographical reach of the organisation is Western Kenya with a main focus on Kisumu city and the environs that are peri-urban. The target population for the group is mainly male sex workers residing in Kisumu city who identify as gay, bisexual or straight who engage in transactional sex.
The group vision is to be an avenue of development for members by providing knowledge on how to enhance health, personal safety and raise the economic standards amongst the male sex workers in Kisumu.
Other activities include offering security training and giving members some basic legal and safety awareness tips. The group also refers those in need the best possible channels that are able to address arising legal issues. They also provide economic empowerment skills training so that the male sex workers can diversify their sources of income. These trainings reach out to those in urban and peri-urban areas of Kisumu. The main organisation need for the group is office space.
The group’s successful feats have involved mobilising 450 new male sex workers in Kisumu city and in the peri-urban areas and referred them to various health welfare, personal safety and economic empowerment initiatives through funding from UHAI EASHRI. This initiative has been achieved through several outreaches. Over time the projects have become a little easier to reach out to new members who are have struggles with stigma and marginalization.
Some of the major challenges the group and its members face are health concerns especially vulnerability to HIV/AIDS and STI infection which really pose hindrance to sex work. Some sex workers have lost their lives.
There are security risks the members face and discrimination in their homes, hotspots and in places they operate. This has also led to police and/or client harassment/ beatings. Many are homeless and have contributed to a lot of fear and grief among our sex workers.
Many members’ main and only source of income is sex work and there are times when business depreciates thus causing a lot of suffering and hardship as they are unable to meet their basic needs.
Other challenges include funders who do not support initiatives run by sex workers. There are tensions felt between the MSM and male sex workers however, steps have been taken to thaw the animosity and to this end the group has a straight male sex worker who is a full member.
The strategies that Shiners has put into place to reduce the challenges have included having trained individuals within the group equipped with knowledge and skills on health, security and economic empowerment matters who are able to impart the same to uninformed members.
The group collaborates with MAAYGO (Men Against AIDS Youth Group based in Kisumu), Aegis Development Groups and KIPE.
The plans in the pipeline involve sourcing for funding resources that can enable implementation of planned activities and increasing capacity building activities to strengthen the group.
Koru Vijana Pamoja
The organization was established in 2011 as a youth group and was registered in 2012 with a membership number of
- It mainly targets the MSM populations in the Muhoroni county Kisumu division and the periphery of Kericho County. The group’s vision is to seek a society where all LGBTI individuals are respected and have access to health care service, economic empowerment and have their human rights upheld.
Their mission is to create a safe space and empower LGBTI individual through education, security and economic empowerment.
The group main activities are trainings on safer sex and free STI screenings for members. They additionally have income generating activities like a tree nursery with 1500 seedlings, a poultry project where each member was asked to donate a chick as a start up, they now have 50 hens so far. Certain organizational needs that came to light was the need for an office as they currently meet in pubs. Further the need to train to equip members with appropriate information and ideas on cross cutting issues like reproductive health, human rights, economic empowerment and so on is key. It is essential to have a steady supply of condoms and lubricants to meet the increasing demand and as a way to promote safe sex and risk reduction strategies among partners. The group requires more funds to cater for day- to-day growth of the group allowing it to meet its financial goals and to explore other income generating opportunities as a way for empowering the group and its members.
The group has registered several accomplishments including the fact that all the MSM in the group are circumcised due to the group intervention in collaboration with IMPACT – RDO. The group also supplied over 3,000 condoms between January and March 2013 that were supplied by KOVIPS group and distributed to members, female sex workers and the public. They also provided 20 condom dispensers in bar establishments and hospitals, 250 lubricants to members. This was a quarterly target and it was achieved successfully.
Substantial work has been done in creating awareness on HIV/AIDS by reaching out to the group members and society at large through skits and shows, provision of hand out information and offering VCT services.
The group runs a tree nursery for local and hybrid seedlings whose capacity is about 3,000 seedlings. Currently we have 1,000 gravalia, 800 acacia, 600 casuarina & 600 eucalyptus). From the sales of these seedlings, the group collects good revenue to cater for some of its expenses. Homaline Company limited does supplies seeds & expertise. Additionally, the group with the assistance of the local dispensary has acquired room that it hopes to use as a health service centre for the MSM female sex worker and male sex workers. In this centre, the group will provide VCT services, cervical cancer screening, care & management of HIV/AIDS among other services. The group also hopes to invite the services of IMPACT RDO who have already given us a work plan that we follow and double up as a service provider. KIPE additionally serves as a service provider however the group has serious challenges accessing their service and support as the distance between their base in Koru is far from Kisumu city.
There are several challenges that the group faces that hamper their work. The shortage of products like condoms & lubricant because of distance and logistical constraints jeopardizes the smooth running of supplies. The area is also deeply homophobic and the group gets a lot of flack from the religious leaders who shun them constantly. There is also a serious lack of appropriate and confidential service centre for clinics and referrals so many shy away from getting health services. It is possible that member lack of unemployment is the biggest challenge the group faces and has resorted to members engaging sometimes in unprotected sex work that is risky to their lives.
In order to limit shortage of lubricants & condoms, adequate stocking should be done that can at least run for a whole month and this can only be done with the co-operation of our service providers like IMPACT, RDO & KIPE.
Unemployment is a challenge but the group has identified various income-generating activities that have helped them sustain themselves and grow further. This initiative though still needs financial support so it fully exploits these opportunities.
On the issue of service provision to cater for demands of male & female sex workers we need to standardize the centre in KORU and provide sufficient and consistent supplies e.g. condoms and lubricant.
Future plans in the pipeline include exploiting income-generating activities so as to expand the group’s financial base. Furthermore, there are plans to standardize the already acquired centre in order to enhance the health priorities of male and female sex workers and MSM in the region.
Koru Vijana Pamoja’s recommends that health and economical empowerment be a priority focus of the regional & national organizations like NYARWEK & GALCK.
Pictures Youth Group
Pictures Youth Group was established in 2006 and was registered in 2011 and it hopes to take a lead on being a sexual minority’s health care provider. The members came together to help address drug and substance abuse among the youth. The name was drawn from the symbolism around visualizing a snapshot of themselves. The organization also advocates for LGBTI rights
and provide socio-cultural support to their members. The group also seeks to build a network to improve the entrepreneurial and technical skills of LGBTI people.
The group targets the MSM populations and its geographical reach is the Kisumu east region. Currently they have 20 members.
The organizations main activities include promoting a healthy drug free generation of the LGBTI community within Kisumu county and improve the uptake of biomedical services geared towards changing drug dependence behavior.
Picture Youth Grop’s organizational needs include having more funds from various donors in order to scale up the alcohol dependency prevention approach initiative and help MSM with alcohol dependency issues integrate back to the larger community. They also hope to improve the capacity of the members economically. The organization has also seen the need to register itself as a CBO.
There are several achievements that can be attributed to the group, for instance the group has successfully carried out community mobilization, sensitization & awareness creation on the
MSM community reaching out (especially to those seeking addiction service) in Kisumu city and its environs through the funding from UHAI EASHRI.
They have also reach out to about 205 MSM and male sex workers through peer education and at least 68 MSM counseled and tested for HIV at the drop off centre. The group also successfully distributed 14,500 condoms provided by Ministry of Health. A further 198 lubricants were distributed through the help of partnership with Tuungane Youth Centre. Over 1,000 IEC material distributed through NACADA and other partners in 25 new hotspots identified in Kisumu.
Currently the group has 25 trained peer educators reach out to fellow peers who routinely follow up providing risk assessment, risk counseling and skill building also refer to their peers to receive various services at the drop in centre
e.g. STI screening & treatment, HTC services, condom and lubricants distribution and promotion.
They have assisted a number of MSM shake off their drugs and substance abuse following workshops on sensitization and one on one peer counseling hosted at the centre.
The weekly forums planned by the organization have helped improve the group’s self-esteem and increase skills and knowledge on how to handle situation on the ground in relation to risk of HIV infection. The talks have promoted openness and sharing of ideas and challenges affecting the MSM and male sex worker community.
This being said several challenges have also hindered the group’s progress. The lack of adequate financial resources have paralyzed the implementation of their activities. Sometimes the membership numbers fluctuate as members move from one group to another. There is also a sense of rivalry with different groups working in the similar field hence a sense of rivalry exists. Stigma and discrimination really hampers the progress of addressing drug and substance abuse especially in the rural setting. It is unfortunate that due to poverty among the members they accept handouts in exchange for sex making it really hard for them to kick the substance abuse habit continually.
The group is implementing some strategies to help curb these challenges and the foremost is continuous fund raising to ensure smooth running of programmes. They also hope to implement income-generating activities for example – voluntary lending and saving community to boost their members. The group is also considering strict rules on membership to curb the fluctuating membership. There is need to have community sensitization and self-sensitization forums to help curb addiction habits and relapses.
The group collaborates with organizations like Tuungane Youth Transition Centre, KIPE, NYARWEK, Liverpool VCT and the Ministry of Health.
In the future, the group hopes to develop into a diverse organization that targets more than LGBTI populations. It also hopes to extend its work to other most at risk populations for example the sex workers. The group hopes to expand their work to other parts of the Western region.
Picture Youth Group has several recommendations on the priority focus of the regional & national organizations like NYARWEK & GALCK. Among their suggestions include strengthening the group’s and member’s capacity for the undertaking major operation in fighting HIV/AIDS. Implement economic empowerment initiatives among LGBTI group members and offer security in times of need. Thee coalitions also need to prioritize providing health care service facilities for LGBTI groups based upcountry in order to access affordable care in a safe environment.
The Picture Youth group is willing to participate in policy formulation and implementation of such programs within the local level and also support the needs of those in crises especially human rights abuse cases.
Muhoroni Friends Innovative Youth Group
The groups was formed in 2010 and had 5 founding members. It has now grown to 18 members who have a vision is to build a society that is understanding, accepting and upholding the rights of LGBs.
They advocate, defend and protect the rights of the LGBs persons.
The target populations for the group are MSM in Muhoroni and greater Nyando sugar belt region.
The group’s main activities include undertaking sports events, organize tournaments to nurture and expose talents of the members and reach out to the larger community. They also conduct trainings around security and human rights awareness for members. Other activities include providing community outreach initiatives like garbage collection and tree planting exercises.
Muhoroni Friends also carry out health forums with LGB members and discuss pertinent health concerns that affect them especially within the context of prevention and curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS, distribute condoms and lubricants to this end.
The group solicits for funds in order to undertake skills and career development initiatives for their members.
Last but not least, the group participates in advocacy causes for the equal rights for all human beings in planned and organized forums.
The group needs to have economic empowerment initiatives for their members.
Other challenges include having a confidential health care provider to extend services to members of the group. The members have to deal with constant stigma and discrimination from the local community and the religious leaders have linked the group to cults.
Nevertheless, Muhoroni Friends has registered several notable achievements. They successfully received their first ever funding from UHAI and has organized security and human rights trainings for members. The group also now has an office to run their activities. The group has an active football team. As a result of their work new groups have sprung in Nyando like the Muhoroni Smart Ladies mainly targeting the female sex worker populations and KORU for the LGBTI community. A three-year strategic plan document has been developed. There have emerged three trained peer educators and human rights defenders from the group.
Some strategies have been developed to curb the challenges; the group plans to hold forums targeting religious leaders and community elders. There are also enhanced efforts to create linkages to enhance donor funding. Security of the group and their members is a major priority.
The organization currently collaborates with originations like NYARWEK, IMPACT – RDO, UHAI EASHRI, Liverpool VCT and FAR.
The group’s future plans involve incorporating income-generating activities for the members. They also intend to nurture and expose the talents of the LGB individuals in Nyando. They also hope to have a better office space where members can meet and run their activities freely. Finally the group plans to market and implement their strategic plan document.
Muhoroni Friends Innovative Youth Group’s recommended priority focus of the regional & national organizations like NYARWEK & GALCK and their pledge of support
“We believe that NYARWEK is the closest organization to us and therefore it should be provided with resources to enable it reach its members in advance.
We hope that the coalition can look for ways to provide specialized trainings for the young groups who lack specialized personnel to implement their proposed activities. Our organization is committed to support this organization by actively participating in their activities and also lobbying for them to donors in our proposals and request.”
“A discrimination free society in which young gay men , other msm and msm sex workers are economically, socially and health wise prosperous.”
The group seeks to inspire and motivate MSM to plan and coordinate activities to create a stronger and healthier community for them, where effective participation in agenda for safer sex, justice, human rights education, becomes a mutually accepted norm at community level.
The target audience for this group include gay and bisexual men, trans men, male sex workers who are infected or affected by HIV/AIDS or are at risk of acquiring or transmitting HIV. Its geographical reach is Kisumu. Presently there are 15 members.
The main group activities include advocating for health rights with a core focus on HIV/AIDs, TB and Malaria. They also undertake advocacy of human rights and equality for all.
Successful achievements include an outreach of up to 1,300 LGBTI persons and other vulnerable populations through their moonlight HTC initiatives.
The organisation has carried out training and equipping 70 LGBTI persons with skills in prevention intervention to share with other LGBTI persons living with HIV. Other successful activities include printing over 500 IEC’s material on safer sex and positive living for onward distribution. Over 115 GMTs and male sex workers living positively are on ART treatment, they also conduct adherence counseling to keep them on treatment. The group effectively trained 50 MSM on peer education who will in turn support others.
A few income generating initiatives have been undertaken to benefit the members. The group has a catering service venture called Shabaan. They also rent out the same chairs they use in their meetings out local events for a fee. The group has provided micro-loan as business start-up capital to 15 GMTs with lower social–economic status and living with HIV.
It is an accomplishment that the group has almost over 20 members holding various positions as peer educators, outreach workers, trainers and project officers with other like-minded partners.
It has been very encouraging that the group had some success at fundraising initiative that saw support from Amref who gave Kshs. 700,000, UHAI EASHRI who gave $9,913, MTV Staying Alive $ 11,700 and amfAR $20,000. This has been achieved in a span of 4 years of the group’s existence.
The major challenges that the group face are sufficient funds to implement their activities. They also feel that their members need capacity building to increase their skills. Occasional bad- mouthing, sabotage efforts and rivalry between other LGBTI organization is a hindrance to their efforts.
Nothing really is in place to curb this challenges but the group soldiers on focusing on implementation of their activities. They also seek to benefit the GMT community, heighten transparency and being accountable to funders and group members.
Future Plans for MAAYGO include upscaling their efforts and widening the scope of their county level work. They also seek to change the status of their organization to be a community- based organization.
MAAYGO’s recommended priority focus of the regional & national organizations like NYARWEK & GALCK:
“Provide capacity building to upcoming LGBTI organization and providing support in fundraising, enhancing cohesion among the organization and serving all without favoritism.”
VOWWEK - Voices of Women in Western Kenya
The group’s vision is to see a society where the voices of women in the LGBTI communities are heard and respected and where more LBTI/WSW individuals take up top leadership positions and their basic human rights promoted. Currently they have 13 members. VOWWEK’s target populations include lesbians, bisexual, trans and intersex who self identify as women in Nyanza and Western Kenya and its environs. Their mission is to establish an organization of LBTI and
WSW (women who have sex with women) in Western Kenya and its environs whose main focus are legal, health, leadership and career development/advancement. The group also focuses on issues around governance and economic empowerment that affect them as women.
Group Main Activities
The group’s activities cut across legal, health, leadership, governance, skills and career development & the economic empowerment of their constituents in order to have a strong and robust movement full of knowledgeable and informed activists.
There are certain challenges that hinder the groups work. These include lack of funding for their planned activities. There is also a distinct lack of space with the LGBTI movement as the programmes and work is more focused on MSM issues leaving out queer women. There is also a real lack of legal capacity to intervene and provide pro bono services when seeking justice.
There is very little in terms of safe sex materials like finger cots, lubricant and so on. Generally there is very little space for queer women to exist especially in the rural setting where there are insular norms that are mainly patriarchal and oppressive.
Despite these challenges, the group has had notable accomplishments. They are a registered CBO and have received $10,000 in funding from UHAI EASHRI to be part of the campaign of
16 days of activism against gender based violence. The group also reached out to political women aspirants who participated in a panel discussion. The group also approached media forums in the western Kenya region and share with them issues that affect LGBTI. Meetings with female police officers were carried out to sensitize them to their concerns especially around
security and gender-based violence. The group participated in the February 14, 2013 One Billion Rising campaign. The group had a procession and walked through a hotspot section in Kisumu city.
In March 2013 they participated in election security training and reached out to voters appealing for them to come out and vote peacefully.
The group participated in a two-day sensitization training on trans and intersex issues with
Jinsiangu. Some members also attended the Gambia Rights meeting. VOWWEK has also participated in slum upgrading projects.
VOWWEK have some organizational needs that can boost its programmes. Their major need is funding to support day-to-day running of activities. They also need friendly health facilities for LBTI women that cater for whatever health specific needs. There is also need to develop the skills and careers of the members as many are school dropouts.
The main challenges the group faces are lack of legal redress support, accessing health care services, illiteracy and poverty.
What are the group strategies or organizational capacity to curb challenges faced?
We have very competent Program Coordinator who is a degree holder in mass communications, Program Officer holds a Diploma in paralegal studies and they have undergone several sexuality and human rights trainings that are beneficial to the organization. The finance officer is a CPA
III holder thus making our organization have good capacities to work towards eradicating the challenges.
Organisations that they collaborate with include UHAI EASHRI, CSO Network, NYARWEK, Kartetri, Jinsiyangu, Women working Women, KISPED, MAAYGO and PEMA – Kenya.
VOWWEK’s recommended priority focus of the regional & national organizations like NYARWEK & GALCK are:
“There should be more funding for the Western Kenya LGBTI organizations. There is need for the coalitions to share with other groups our experiences both success and challenges in order to reflect on lessons learnt.”
This is a medical practitioners’ organization formed in 2011 that brings together LGBTIQ individuals who have a medical background in order to fight stigma and discrimination from within the health sector and at the same time bridge the knowledge health gap that exits within our community through health education and awareness programs.
The target populations of the group are LGBTIQ individuals and the greater population with whom we mainstream and engage, the geographical reach is Kisumu county. Currently the membership lies at 15 who comprise of:
- 3 medical practitioners
- 3 clinical officers
- 3 health officers
- 1 nurse
- 2 psychologist
- 2 HTC counselors
- 1 lab technicians
The group’s main activities include carrying out health education programs on diseases of public health importance such as Cancer, HIV/AIDS, and TB & Diabetes. The group also has a school outreach program in institutions of higher learning especially those that offer medical courses. The group participates in advocacy activities within the health sector through the fora that bring together medical practitioners together to dialogue. They also refer LGBTI to friendly health centres. They target sensitizing health workers on LGBTI relevant health concerns. They also offer psychological counseling services.
Third Race organizational needs include the need funding to support their outreach work. They also need laptops, internet connections, photocopying and printing machine to research on the latest information on health and enable the group to give handouts on various health topics and discussions.
Some notable achievements include a successful health education programme at KIPE spanning 3 months and maintaining a strong and vibrant group for over a year.
The group’s strength is its capacity and its ability to resource mobilization. Currently they collaborate with KIPE, VOWWEK, WOFAK and IMPACT-RDO.
The plans in the future include to source for funding to run their activities and to develop a working and reliable strategic plan.
Third Race’s recommended priority focus of the regional & national organizations like NYARWEK & GALCK;
“There is a lack of consistent donors supporting Western Kenya organizations and this should be a primary focus and this ought to be addressed. It is also imperative to find ways to develop a joint regional proposal with like-minded organizations in order to negotiate for big network funds. Third Race is willing to articulate these points in order to establish a common understanding on what we mean.
Kisped is an LGBTI youth group formed in 2010 by those who faced stigma and discrimination. It membership mainly targets LGBTI populations and seeks to sensitize the larger community on LGBTI issues. Its geographical reach is Kisumu County. Currently it has 12 members.
KISPED’s main activities include advocating to have a society free of stigma and discrimination. Their main tool is theatre performance and they use this platform to bring to the fore LGBTI issues to the community.
The challenges the group face involve inadequate funds to run their activities. The members also face a lot of stigma and discrimination from family and friends. The group has missed out on opportunities to stage their work at the national festivals because the group could not afford it. The group has managed to use theatre to have safe channels for dialogue with the community. The group has also been involved with income generating programmes that have benefitted the members and the group.
Strides have been made to formulate a strategic and plan. Using their talents in theatre KISPED has participated in major events on WAD, IDAHO and the like. The group has been fortunate to receive funding and the group is currently going through a transitional process that should see it gaining from strength to strength.
They have commercial shows in several places including Tanzania, Uganda, Busia and Nairobi. The group is open to LGBTI who have skills around drama and art to join their organisation. They undertook their first ever theatre festival where they invited other NYARWEK members to attend.
Women who Work with Women – 3W
3W is a registered CBO registered under the Ministry of Gender. It is a women group, prior to registration women met in clubs and restaurants. The group is comprised of queer women and is open to all women who share the same vision for LGBTI women in Western Kenya. Since then they now have an office space that allows for meetings. The geographical reach for the group is Western and Nyanza province and Kericho in the Rift Valley. The membership number is inconsistent since some members defected when no funding was forthcoming and other members joined.
The group’s main activities include social meet ups like watching LGBTI themed movies and discussing them. The group has also taken part in signing for different petitions affecting their populations. They have taken part in activities with CAL and participated in movement building capacity training led by UHAI EASHRI. The group also has active football and volleyball teams.
Some challenges that the group faces is the lack of funding for projects. The group has severally discussed coming up with income generating activities but have procrastinated setting it up. The group members face a lot of abuse and ridicule from the community. Inner wrangles have caused the group to loose members who do have different ideas as to how the group should run.
In spite of these challenges the group has also had some accomplishments. They have successfully brought many women from different social statuses in Kisumu together. The group has also offered encouragement and positive reinforcement to members who attend the movie bonding sessions.
KISLEB – Kisumu Lesbians and Bisexuals
Their main activities include addressing substance abuse within LBT and tackling domestic violence among lesbian relationships that is an issue of major concern in the community. This is one of the only groups in Kenya that try to tackle this increasing area of concern within the community.
The group has had a major challenge of not receiving any funding support to date. However despite this, they have successfully managed to register as members with NYARWEK and are in conversations with NACADA for support.
KARTEKRI (a dholuo word that means ‘according to your strength’)
The group was started by 3 gay men to offer support to LGBI community in Bondo and the whole Siaya County. The group’s membership stood at 26 but one member passed away and now they are 25.
The group’s main activities in the agriculture sector are around health awareness especially HIV/AIDS and they participate in income generating activities to benefit their members.
Some of the group’s challenges were pulling out of the partnership with IMPACT-RDO as they were breaching members’ confidentiality and placing the members’ lives in danger. Now the whole area has no service provider there and that is adversely affecting the group but they could not risk putting more in danger. The group has also suffered a setback when a member was spotted with his partner and he had to leave his home in fear of his life. Lack of funding has adversely affected the group’s ability to operate.
In the face of these adversities the group has managed to accomplish some income from growing and selling sukumawiki (kale vegetables). They have also organized sports tournaments for under-17 and managed to buy balls and a trophy for the event. The group has successfully held a successful strategic planning process with the support of OSEIA and NYARWEK.
Eagles for Life
The group started in 2010 as a MSM Youth group programme in conjunction with NPI Sharp and registered it as a youth group at the time although since then it is now a CBO. It has also transitioned into an LGBTI organization and NPI left in 2011 and established its own office. The group has an office in Kisii and its geographical reach is Kisii, Nyamira and Migori counties. The group’s membership is now at 34.
The level of homophobia and stigma is very high in the area and the group’s main activity involves trying to sensitize the community on issues around LGBTI. The groups lobbies and advocates for the LGBTI rights in the region. Within the movement, they organize security trainings and have get-togethers. Some activities also seek to provide vocational training for its members in addition to offering counseling services. The group tries to increase safe spaces for the community.
The major challenges the group faces include lack of funding and security concerns as Kisii is extremely homophobic and poses a risk to the members. The group also faces a lot of discrimination from the society at large.
The group’s accomplishments so far include being a registered MSM organization in the government records. It has also supported 8 members to attain vocational training with funding from UHAI and to pick areas of interest e.g. video editing, driving courses and so on. The group has benefitted from Ji-sort programme that helped structure their group and systemize their work. The group managed to lobby and advocate and engage in opinion exchanges with leaders in one on one meetings. They have also carried out community outreaches that had a reach of over 921 LGBTI community members. In 2012 the organization participated actively in World AIDS Day for the first time and it was also the first time discussions around gay issues were discussed in public in Kisii. Eagles joined the local District Commissioner for a luncheon at the time and
there were subsequent discussion with political and government leaders present on how to reduce homophobia in the community.
Light Youth Group
The group began in 2012 with 3 members. It focused on the fisher folk, MSM and drug users in the area. The current membership is 17 and their geographical reach is Bondo, Siaya county and the beaches of Lake Victoria.
The main group activities included commercial farming like tomato planting for sale.
Some challenges that hinder their growth include lack of funding to enable them to implement all their activities. Communication is a major challenge because in order to send an e-mail they would have to travel over 15km to access the nearest cyber café. In their farming efforts, they sometimes lack generators to help with irrigation as they rely on borrowing them from others.
The local area is extremely homophobic and poses a real risk to the members of LGBTI. One of their members who was intersex was sent away from the beach because of her physical appearance thus cutting off her daily income.
The group has made some strides in its efforts. Following their farming activity the group bought a tent that they rent out for events and this provides a source of income. They have also got an office space for meetings.
Obogiima (Life )
This is a group that was formed in 2012 to assist LGBTI understand and express themselves. The geographical reach for the group is Nyamira in Kisii and parts of Bomet. Kisii is an extremely homophobic place and one can be killed for being LGBTI. Their current membership stands at 28.
Their main activities are to ensure that they do their part in ensuring that there are zero infections and that there are comprehensive HIV/AIDS services for their members. The group also lobbies and advocates in an effort to reduce stigma and push for human rights to all.
The group was formed in 2006 by a few LGBTI individuals who belong to the SDA church who borrowed the idea from the international SDA kinship. The group operates nationally and have formed regional chapter to serve locally. The Western region has a chapter that targets the members of the SDA church who are LGTI and church going.
Nationally the group has 93 members, regionally they have 45 and their core focus is to ensure they encourage health rights in line with religion.
Their main activities include participating in retreats and organizing ball games locally. The also organize forums to discuss LGBTI right. They carry out visits to the regions in an effort to keep abreast with all their members.
The organization has some hindrances like lack of office space, they would meet at different members’ houses. It has also proven difficult to reach out to members of the family and so there is little growth of membership in the group.
Pat of the challenges also include the conflicts in
being a Christian and an LGBTI person. There is so much stigma and intolerance if anyone came out in the religious
environment. This makes so many choose to stay in the closet just so as to continue going to their regular places of worship. There is a lot of homophobia from family, friends and faithful alike making it a very hard place to be open.
Despite the major challenges the group has managed to form a spiritual group that is registered. They have also got funding from well-wishers and organized a retreat in Migori that involved NYARWEK and its member groups in 2012. They have also developed networks with organizations like Tuungane, KIPE, NYARWEK and SDA international.
Mutual Crosscutting Issues across the NYARWEK Member Groups
Following the questionnaire survey, a two-day meeting was held to discuss the findings of the results. It was in this meeting that the groups validated the major cross cutting issues that affected their organization in one way or another. The major and crucial issues were categorized into five core problem areas.
- Community Organizing/Networking
- Organizational & Personal Skills Development
Lack of resources to give legs to the group and its activities whether it be to acquire a safe space to meet, or plan talks, participate in advocacy drives, provide or distribute safe sex material is virtually impossible to implement without funding. Many groups echo the grinding to a halt effect the lack of financial resources has caused them; some groups are long members while others have no way of uplifting the morale of the members.
Many groups are unregistered or lack the stringent organizational capacity and systems that donors expect and insist on having prior to even considering funding. A few donors have exceptionally come on board and partnered with the groups and provided much needed funds and capacity support for example OSIEA, amfAR & UHAI EASHRI. The realist however is that majority of the groups are unable to attract the attention of donor partners.
On a more individual level, many group members are also struggling to make ends meet to sustain their basic needs.
Therefore the circle of poverty is a pandemic crippling the LGBTI groups in rural and peri-urban settings. It is imperative that we recognize that homophobia in rural Kenya is intense as the setting and environment is insular and making it stifling for the LGBTI community there. This also means that the LGBTI organizing in rural settings is distinct and the nuances and workings are very different from those based in larger towns and cities. There is need to appreciate that the social set up, the domestic situations, social spaces and the close-knit community that
emphasizes traditionalist norms and are resistant to change or non-conformity would have a separate set of characteristics that we need recognize and find ways to support.
Many groups core objective was to find ways to improve health and well-being of the members and by extension to the community in extremely intolerant spaces with less than adequate health care services that at best lacking even for the general populations.
Some of the groups have sparked initiatives that seek to advocate for better health care and adoption of human rights to all regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation. They find ways to bring to fore the discussions of social justice among the rural folk. There is significant progress reflected in some of these ventures but the fact on the ground is that many members lack basic care and service. The concern of the groups in ensuring members are keeping health and encouraging better healthcare access for all is an urgent priority.
There is also a significant high rate of HIV/AIDS infections in these regions. One plus is the fact that several MARPS programmes are in place to help address HIV/AIDS focused issues. However, sometimes the allies and partners of the groups’ inadvertently and carelessly breach confidentiality of the members be it outing them or reveal their status either due to lack of sensitivity to the environment or due to incompetence. This oversight is extremely dangerous for the LGBTI and sex worker populations in these areas as their lives can be at serious risk. It has been one of the reasons that groups in rural areas hesitate to partner with allies and service providers, as it seems that there is no real investment or effort in understanding the unique risks posed because of where they are located.
There is need for service providers to think through tailor made system that adapt to rural folk and their service needs.
Community Organising & Networking
A lot of the workings in organizations is disjointed causing a lot of duplication and reinvention of the wheel so to speak. Duplication of activities is also a waste of precious resources. Duplication brings rise to competition and unnecessary rivalry.
Some solutions to this problem is to allow for groups to open to each other and seek synergies, partnerships in for a common goal is key in growing the both the movement and the groups.
It is unfortunate to note however that the primary motivation for some groups to come together and for an LGBTI group is to receive funding and not for any other social justice cause. This becomes clearer to peer organisations when attempts to create synergies and partnerships are sought.
It has become necessary for groups to come out of their comfort zones and reach out to other organisations in order to implement their missions.
Security is the backbone for the groups and their members. Personal safety is crucial for the LGBTI populations especially in rural Kenya where homophobia and intolerance towards non- conforming individuals can be life threatening.
Without resources to ensure that groups have a safe space to meet, without a steady income to ensure that the individuals have access to options when under threat or attack from society all contribute to making them vulnerable.
presence of extra judicial harassment contributes in hampering the growth in numbers of populations that can benefit from the groups and their work.
There are persistent threats, shunning and also affects the LGBTI individuals and contribute in silencing them.
Another issue that came up around security was the need for constant security updates, trainings, emergency protocols, safe houses and so on are necessary to continue to assure the group members that their safety is important and planned for allowing them to play their parts in building the movement.
Some groups had successfully engage security bodies like the police to reduce attacks from their clientele. Learning and replicating from successful formulas that exist in rural and peri –urban settings will go a long way in enhancing safety of the group and its members.
Organization and Personal Skills Development
Like any healthy movement, the LGBTI movement needs to grow from strength to strength. In many ways the members of the groups have been marginalized in various ways whether it is lack of education or work skills or no livelihood especially in a Kenyan rural setting.
In order to address this gap and in an effort to improve organizational capacity it is necessary to invest in ventures that improve the skills of the members and the organization. Some of these skills will go a long way in creating work, income and personal growth opportunities for the members and allow them to be self-sustaining.
It is also important for the organization to find ways to improve their processes, or allow for alternative sources of income to fund projects and plans that they may want to implement. This survey and subsequent discussed also recognized that clustering of the groups based on common objectives and /or geographical location is an essential part of personal and organizational growth.
The Way Forward – Clustering of the Groups Per Region
In the meeting to discuss the findings of the survey, and in reflection of the common challenges, shared objectives the groups validated that indeed there were cross cuttings issues and need for clustering and grouping their organisations to enhance capacity and be more effective in implementing activities. Whether these cluster present better opportunities to have joint proposals, or shared activities, joint membership rolls to avoid duplication would go a long way in enhancing the groups and their members.
After deliberations the following clusters were created:
Kisumu cluster A who included VOWWEK, Kisumu Lesbian & Bisexual and Women Working with Women – 3W.
Kisumu County Cluster B which includes; Kisumu Peer Educators – KISPED, Kisumu Shiners, Third Race, Men Against AIDS Youth Group – MAAYGO & SDA Kinship.
Kericho County Cluster 3: which included PLAG-IT, Koru Vijana Pamoja- KOVIPA and Muhoroni Friends.
Siaya County Cluster 4 which included Light Group and KARTEKRI
Migori,Kisii Cluster 5 which included World Positive Changers(WOPCHA), Membership Service Movement (MSM) and Eagles for Life,
Western Region Cluster 6 included Pillars in Kakamega, Survivors in Busia, Bungoma Life Ambassadors in Bungoma
The Cluster Work Priorities and Action Plan
Kisumu Cluster A – VOWWEK, Kisumu Lesbian ( KISLEB)& Bisexual, Women working with Women(3W)
The major priorities for the groups under health include domestic violence within relationships which are hardly acknowledged or talked about, drug abuse, the ravages of HIV/AIDS within the LGBTI persons, reproductive health that include services like cervical cancer screening, treatments for fistula and fibroids.
Figure 1: Kisumu cluster A meeting
Actions Plan for Cluster A
- Come up with research to get the statistics of how many queer women are affected by HIV /AIDS.
- Domestic violence is a insidious plague that is affecting relationships within the queer There are no support mechanisms to help address this rising concern and the group would like to establish and interception plan to ensure that relationships are more wholesome and healthy.
- Advocacy/ sensitization of women’s
- Exchange Programs
Funding Action Plan for Cluster A
The groups will work towards sending out joint proposals on the same thematic work areas they intend to work on. The groups will collaborate and jointly identify potential donors for their activities.
It is necessary to come up with income generating activities that will benefit individuals in the groups to raise their standards of living.
Community Organizing & Networking for Cluster A
allowing the members to bond.
Security for Cluster A
Security training for new members and constant refresher courses for older members is a permanent and consistent activity for the groups. These trainings and awareness programmes are best ventured jointly as the personal safety of all members is of utmost priority.
- Trainings for new members/ refresher course for the older members
- Security plan (Partnering with Nyawek’s Security plan).
Organizational & Personal Skills Development for Cluster A
There will be a series of vocational trainings for members to benefit from. Further, a mentorship programme will be established in order to nurture positive personal growth of the individuals and ultimately contributing massively in progressing the LGBTI movement.
Kisumu County Cluster B – Kisumu Peer Educators – KISPED, Kisumu Shiners, Third Race, Men Against Aids Youth Group( MAAYGO), SDA Kinship.
Funding Action Plan for Cluster B
The groups intend to identify and generate ideas around the group problems or challenges that need addressing. Further, they intend to consolidate a list of donors to approach for joint proposal funding.
The groups also want to find ways to have activities that can be done jointly that does not require donor funding.
They have decided to seek alternative sources of income will come in handy for example income generating activities to fund the cluster’s initiatives.
The cluster will open up to partnerships with other clusters towards common shared goals.
Health Action Plan for Cluster B
The organizations have resolved to identify problems affecting the community health wise and find ways to seek friendly service providers in conjunction with M.O.H. The cluster will also conduct joint community mobilization and sensitization through forums, dialogues, theatre and one on one talks. They also hope to jointly initiate social events for targeting groups and make medical referrals appropriately.
Action Plan for Community Organisation/ Networking for Cluster B
The cluster will spend time to pinpoint people with various skills to play different roles in building the member groups and the individual capacities.
The cluster will organize exchange visit/ programs with like-minded goals to share their learnings and reflect. An assessment of weaknesses and strength will be implement in order to prioritize which gaps to fill.
Joint training sessions and seminars for capacity building will be beneficial for all the groups. The cluster will work towards encouragement full and committed involvement from all the members.
Security Action Plan for Cluster B
Joint efforts in pin pointing the security threats will go a long way in ensuring that the groups have each other’s backs. The cluster intends to form a security team who will receive training to spearhead this important aspect of their lives.
The cluster hopes to create policies to guide this sensitive issue as it affects the safety of the members. Last but not least, the cluster will find ways to liaise with law enforcement to boost security.
Kericho County Cluster C – PLAG-IT, Koru Vijana Pamoja – KOVIPA , Muhoroni Friends
Action Plan for Cluster C on Funding
The cluster would like to sign up for training on proposal writing and push NYARWEK to help identify funding partners.
Action Plan for Cluster C on Health
They would like to pressure NYARWEK the regional coalition to identify more service providers who can offer service that it friendly, confidential and accessible. Further, to enhance their skills and knowledge on issues around HIV/AIDS they would like to train with certified institutions like KEMRI, LVCT, NASCOP, NACC in line of TOT, peer educators and HTC.
Action Plan for Cluster C on Community Organising/Networking
The cluster would like to venture and have joint capacity building training and participate in Exchange programs with other clusters.
Action Plan for Cluster C on Security
The cluster would like to acquire a safe house in order to assist those in a crisis. A Cluster security committee will also be formed in order to co-ordinate joint efforts in boosting safety.
Siaya County Cluster D – Light Group, KAR TEKRI Cluster D Action Plan on Funding
The cluster intends to submit joint proposals to the LGBTI friendly donors (after identify potential donors). The cluster also hopes to create more synergies and networking with other LGBTI groups or LGBTI friendly organizations to enhance their work. Joint efforts at initiating economic empowerment opportunities for the members benefit is also in the pipeline.
Cluster D Action Plan on Health
The cluster will investigate for ways to get consistent supply of lubricants and dental-derms for distribution to members. They also plan to organize for a health workshop for both lesbian and gays (LGBTI). The cluster has seen the important to map out the health facilities within Siaya County and train /sensitize on LGBTI focused & friendly services. The cluster also intends to train members who are fisher folk on drugs and substance abuse at its adverse effect in making one vulnerable to HIV/AIDS infection.
Cluster D Action Plan on Security
They plan to organize and conduct a security training among members and network with the local law enforcement
- There are also plans to come up with the security policy/ safe house to help those in an emergency. Initiatives that boost community organization and networking with a goal to enhance the personal safety of groups and members is key. They hope to network with other likeminded organization for service provision e.g. LVCT, KIPE. Finally, the groups hopes to networking with village elders to create allies
Cluster D Organisation & Personal Skills Development Action Plan
The groups intend to jointly organise and conduct training for the members in order to enhance personal development and skills in areas they are interested in. Further they plan to conduct training on income generating activities to benefit all members. In an effort to make the environment less hostile, they also hope to sensitize the community about the LGBTI populations and their struggles with homophobia and intolerance.
Migori,Kisii Cluster E – World Positive Changers – WOPCHA, Membership Service Movement (MSM), Eagles for Life
Cluster E Action Plan on Health
The cluster intends to develop partnerships with friendly LGBTI health service providers for members to benefit from. They also hope to undertake joint health trainings and carry out joint distribution drives to promote safe sex commodities.
Cluster E Action Plan on Funding
The cluster will identify potential donor partners and approach them for joint support. They also plan to boost their skills in better proposal writing & presentation. They want to invest in a relationship based on trust between the cluster members and the donors.
Cluster E Action Plan on Security
The cluster will focus on acquisition of a safe space in response to emergency cases. They also have security training and requisitioning security funds in the works.
Cluster E Action Plan on Community Organizing
They plan to contact persons within the cluster and come up with an exchange of ideas that can boost their personal and organisational development. They also plan to conduct routine meetings to update on security issues and so on. They cluster also hopes to participate in exchange programmes, vocational trainings and entrepreneurship training and support to benefit both individuals and the organizations.
WESTERN REGION CLUSTER F – PILLARS in KAKAMEGA, SURVIVORS in BUSIA), Bungoma Life
Ambassadors in Bungoma
Cluster F Action Plan in Funding
They plan to identify donors and organise proposal writing training so they can submit joint proposals.
Cluster F Action Plan in Health
The cluster will identify and sensitize health practitioners on the importance of confidentiality when dealing with issues of the LGBTI especially in the rural setting. They also plan to have joint provision of health services such as VCT, Drug addict counseling, screening of STI & Treatment. Finally they plan to conduct health talks from which all the groups can benefit.
Cluster F Action Plan in Community Organising And Networking
The cluster plans to enhance partnership within groups through exchange programs and conduct joint outreaches. They also plan to have radio talks around LGBTI issues. The cluster plans to organize sport competition between the three groups to bond further.
Cluster F Action Plan in Organistion & Personal Skills Development
Plans will be made to train members in good communication skills. They also intend to have mentorship initiatives through guiding and counseling.
They also plan to create programs that are income-generating activities within individual member groups in the cluster to boost their sources of income.
Cluster F Action Plan in Security
They plan to form security personnel committee within the cluster
And hope to train police officers on LGBTI issues and human rights advocacy.
It is hoped that the cluster can create a security plan and strategies and develop security policy within the cluster and making sure it is implemented.
NYARWEK CLUSTER STRATEGY
ROLES OF CLUSTER COORDINATORS
- Receive program/project concerns from the member groups in the
- Contact person of a cluster between the cluster and the
Mobilize the cluster for joint activities. Make reports on cluster activity.
Create allies within the cluster region.
Represent the programmatic interests of his/her cluster at all times.
Conduct him/ herself in a way that protects and upholds the image of Nyarwek at all times.
Disseminate all the relevant information to the groups within the cluster in a timely manner.
Support Nyarwek to achieve her mission and vision.
Be aware of all the activities being done in the cluster and ensure effective participation of the cluster members.
Be available at all times during working hours. Mobilization
Reports to the Coordination and Linkages officer.
Nyarwek has 6 clusters divided according to the geographical regions. These groups within a cluster have the same focus areas of work. The cluster model works in such a way that the Coordination and linkages office is in charge of the groups within Nyarwek and through this department the other departments of Nyarwek get to work with the groups. The cluster coordinators work under the coordination and linkages office. The idea is to devolve the program work to the member groups so that they can own it from the grassroots level.
Hence the secretariat acts as a coordinating body while the groups within the coalition run the programs by themselves.
This is very important and key on engaging with the cluster since it the foundation of organizing, the organization communication strategy is very clear on working with the coordinators within the cluster this always is usually through email, phone call or one to one meeting with the individual to strengthen the system.
Terms of Reference with the coordinators
For the systems to run effective responsibility lies with the coordinator who is the contact person within the cluster in line with addressing the issues articulated above. The TOR is attached as for reference Annex one
- Limited resources to run programs in all the clusters
- Most of the groups within the coalition are diminishing due to factors known to the groups themselves
- Effective Communication due to limited resources
within the movement and formulated a clear structure on how to engage. The recommendation are one has to be careful while implementing the approach since we have to have a common understanding and a goal to fight together as a team work. This approach remains the rights of NYARWEK coalition for any one need to implement copy right reserved to acknowledge the organization.