COMMUNITY WE WANT
by Amon Bazira
Community We Want (CWW) is an LGBTI project developing capacity of persons mentioned who are going through serious economic distress due to career barriers like stigma from friends and family who see them as abominations and/or disgraces. This results into fewer opportunities for them to make ends meet. The initiative is a wealth creation concept applying commercial tools and enterprise-based approach to alleviating poverty through providing LGBTI persons in communities with hard skills like pastry, cake baking, events decoration and management thus making self-employment and economic independence a possibility. The plan is to do a 360-degree approach to development by equipping beneficiaries with not only hard skills but also soft skills that enable empowerment, boundaries and expectations, constructive use of time, commitment to learning, positive values, social competencies and positive identity towards who they are.
The project is meant to eradicate poverty amongst the LGBTI community members in Uganda through economic empowerment projects and be a safe space that advocates for a policy and legislative environment in Uganda that protects LGBTI people from Economic Distress or discrimination of them as abnormal human beings.
LGBTI people are viewed as “abnormal” and incapable of doing anything dubbed “normal” which brings in a self-fulfilling prophesy and many of them do not get to a point of being the best versions of themselves because no one is there to empower them with the idea that they are more capable to do great things and they have more interesting things about them. The project is meant to eradicate poverty, low self-esteem, promote health and wellness and create financial independence for LGBTI people in Uganda.
The beneficiaries of the project are mainly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, intersex, queers and also those questioning their own sexual orientation. They will be equipped with hands on skills and soft skills like bakery, pastry, event planning and management, event decoration, health and wellness, financial planning and management, constructive use of time and other social competencies.
We successfully hired 5 facilitators, secured a venue, procured training material and trained 35 LGBT youths who had been recruited from a larger number of applicants. We faced a challenge of fear among the youths due to the existence of threat towards “Pride Uganda”, an event which was happening in the same month. We took high measures of encouraging them not to disclose the location of the training venue and reassuring them that we were at a safe venue and they shouldn’t worry. We also did not disclose them as LGBT in any communication to assure their safety.
We further faced a challenge of time management by the youths due to the fact that they were not used to routine. We solved this by making community agreements and also moved the practical lessons which they enjoyed so much to morning hours. This brought the desirec effect – 90% showed up earlier.
On the other hand, transport refund was a challenge because we didn’t offer it due to limited budget. Many youths did miss some days because they didn’t have funds for transportation. We had to get into our personal accounts to create a small budget for some youths and others were encouraged to move in with their friends who live closer to the venue for the time of the training, which worked out well. Furthermore, we faced a challenge of space due the fact that some youths wanted to attend both practical classes at the same time. That had not been our intention since we planned to have classes of 15 and 20. We utilized the space that we had with help of the hotel management to create more space.
The time for the training was limited because of the resources available to us within this project stipend. The participants still wanted the training to continue, but we couldn’t go further. To solve this, we occasionally call them using a time table to continue their mentorship with our events company. They have so far been part of over four of our events and earned themselves some money.
We experienced an influx of over 40 more youth who wanted to join the training when their friends told them about what we were doing. We hope to organize more of such trainings in the future and hopefully we look at making the trainings more engaging in terms of time and invest in sustainability through our bakery goal.
Director Community We Want