Gay Kenya, the human rights, media and religious advocacy group of gay identifying Kenyan males has launched an appeal for funds to establish a permanent place of safety for gay people.
In an attempt to engage support from wherever it can, Gay Kenya has put up an online appeal on the Global Giving website which prides itself on connecting what it calls, “good idea people” with the “generous giver people” and help projects of all sizes receive donations of all sizes.
One of Gay Kenya’s stated strategic plans is to create safe spaces and in an attempt to bring this plan to life, they have initiated a project aimed at procuring a permanent safe house. Gay Kenya seeks to raise $53,000 that will address immediate safety problems faced by members of the community
Such a place of safety would provide an opportunity for gays to engage with resident career counsellors and for them to explore beneficial career options and where possible engage with family seeking their reconciliation and reintegration.
If Gay Kenya successfully manages to raise $4,000 from 50 donors before December 31, 2011 they will earn a permanent spot on the site for fund raising. As at December 8, Gay Kenya had raised $425 from six donors.
Elphas Naivasha, the board Chair of Gay Kenya said, “We know this project seems to have initial huge cost implication. But we are focusing on the long term benefit it will drive to those many gay and lesbian community and families of the LGB people in Kenya.”
He pointed out, “It is important to note there is a difference between already existing safe houses and our proposed safe place shelter. Safe houses are present and they remain secret locations that house those who are under threat for being gay.”
The physical existence of a gay-owned initiative to reach out to the community without fear will help LGB people live happily and responsibly to the benefit of the entire society. In the longer term the facility will also host an entrepreneurial training centre. Some significant factors mentioned by members of the community as major hindrances are exposure to sexual health problems with little access to healthcare and persistent violence that hampers meaningful and sustainable ways to earn a living.
The entrepreneurial training will seek to quash these vulnerabilities and provide a retreat facility offered on a ‘camp-site’ basis for members.
In his appeal Naivasha said, “We need not to hide because being a different sexual orientation is not a shame. But one may ask themselves, what if my family rejects me and throw me out? What if I lose my education support? Or lose my job? This is why we needed to reassure our community and provide the safe place shelter. I am calling on all gay friendly people and all the gay community out there to support this project. Let the next generation be proud of us.”
Meanwhile as African culture is structured in such a way that young people are expected to care for the elderly, part of Gay Kenya’s longer term project ambition is to develop an old age home where elderly gay people may be looked after.
By: Melissa Wainaina