OUT visited Mamelodi To Educate The Community about HIV and gender stereotyping. The event took place on the 5th of August at Stanza Bopape IT centre, Extension 5 near the police station.
The purpose of the event was to bring the people of Mamelodi together and educate them about LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) issues. The group targeted everyone including youth and elders. They provided free HIV testing and counselling. Everyone was encouraged to the test and take free condoms as part of their contraception.
“OUT came here because of the lack of services dedicated for the LGBT community and discrimination that you’ll find especially when you’re gay, lesbian or transgender and you’re going to use public services or facilities so we provide services that cater for those particular individuals”, said Fortune Yaka, the event organiser.
The organisation is based in Pretoria, Hatfield. The challenges that the team is currently facing are that it is that people in the community judges them, they think they’re wrong and promoting LGBT.
“We are very sensitive about these issues, we understand about situations we are going to find and we have passion, we’re able to turn things around so that people can think in positive way instead of a negative way”, said Yaka.
The team believes in availability and visibility, they make their organisation available to the community so that they can get an access to their services . The events that they’re hosting gives them an opportunity to see the different mindset of people and their perceptions towards LGBT community. They’re also bringing other issues such as hate crimes, whereby people are physically or verbally attacked because of their sexual orientations.
Fortune believes that it is important for people to know and understand the information they deliver about what it means to be gay or lesbian. So they as a team can see a direction of where they’re going and where they can actually cater.
“Is very hard to work with those kind of issues especially when you’re doing a service and working with key populations in terms of HIV, where you find men have sex with men or women who have sex with women. Mostly men who have sex with men because they have a higher risk of contracting HIV so we have to educate people to be informed about it”, said Yaka .
The community felt grateful for having such event catered especially for them and they took it as an opportunity.
“I was just passing by to bring my child’s book to the library and I saw OUT and visited them to hear what they’re here for. They gave me a lot of information that I’ve actually learnt about HIV, I feel sorry for people who are ignorant about this because it is important, it is the opportunity for everyone of us and I wish we can all grab it”, said Lindiwe Monyangeni.
Another community member, Tumelo Motsha, said that he felt shy to go to the clinics and test and he wasn’t aware of the organisation that called OUT, he’s happy about this kind of initiatives that happen in his community. He quotes “Bare go thloka tsebo ke gote polaya” meaning that is better to know who you are than die without knowing.
“I feel so good and I think is actually good to host this kind of event, people are quiet busy so whenever they get a chance to test they test and I’m actually very happy because I see a lot of young people are getting tested since young people from ages of 15 and 24 are living with HIV, so them taking initiative to test, means that they also care about themselves and they’re also curious about where they’re standing in terms of their status”, said Happy Phaleng.
“We would like to do more events that educate the community about the LGBTI community and also to sensitize them in the process. The love not hate programme also serves to help those who have experienced hate crimes as a result of their sexual orientation to report and receive psycho-social support and legal referrals. Out as an organisation is dedicated in educating the community about LGBTI issues and to bridge the gap of understanding towards a safe and healthy society”, said Hate crime Peer educators.