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Volume 1 , issues 2

Newsletter Date 26/07/2012

Ishtar Newsletter July issue

Ishtar MSM Open Forum

Bridging the Gap Project

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Ishtar Newsletter July issue

Ishtar Nomination to key population committee Ishtar was nominated to the key population’s policy and coordination national steering committee. The specific mandate of the National steering committee will be: -Spear head the National HIV response policy formulation, review and coordination targeting Key populations (MARPs) -Set the research, monitoring and evaluation agenda for key populations and advice on policy translation on research findings -Coordinate/Harmonize key populations programming nationally to ensure resource allocation is matched with the need both in scope and geographical coverage. -Review service coverage and size estimations -Identify resource needs and mobilize resources to address the need -Advocate for Human Rights-based service delivery and engagement of key populations Work closely with the TWG to ensure the highest quality standards for MARPs programming. DELIVERABLES: -National Key populations Policy -Thematic areas for research and evaluation identifiers and methodological evaluation -Program me and resource analysis report -Advocacy strategies for key populations -Updated Stakeholder mapping report -Best practice documented and disseminated -Data base/report on partners and implementers

Message from Ishtar Health Desk. In the recent months Ishtar MSM has been carrying out focus group discussions with the intention of understanding the needs of our members and the impact of our past programmes/projects. With continued support from our members who have issued informative responses that are building up to reports and recommendations that will be released soon. Ishtar is trying its level best to ensure access to health and social well being of our members is continued and of the best quality. We have always taken lead in the distribution of condoms and water based lubricants, and has even received requests from Uganda to supply them with water based lubricants. We are also in the process of fundraising for activities that will build up to the World Aids Day in December 1st .As for the services at the drop in centre Ishtar has been in negotiations with NOPE to see to it that there is continuity to the comprehensive Health care package is continued. However Ishtar encourages its members to access HTC (Hiv Testing and Counselling), and access to STI screening. Condon and lubricants can be gotten at the Ishtar desk. Ishtar is setting up interactive social Medias where members can be having peer to peer sessions, discussing topics/issues affecting MSMs while also reading about business and other informative materials.

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The 5th International NOPE Conference THE NOPE CONFERENCE This year The National Organization Of Peer educators held a conference at the Kenyatta International Conference centre, Ishtar MSM had the privileged of having a stand/Booth at the grounds during the entire three days duration of the conference meant to educate the public on what mandates we carry out to our members. The event was on HIV Prevention resolution, which instigated a lot of public dialogue.

Is being gay a life style?

Does one choose to be gay?

Is being gay a disease? These were some of the questions that were coming from the public

Ishtar-MSM VOLUNTEERS Wapendwa Kaka zangu na Dada (Hello My Brothers and Sisters)

I am Phillip J. Lovett, an American volunteer from Baltimore City, Maryland. I am much honored Ishtar MSM and even more honored to have this opportunity in meeting you.

to assist

As an African-American Gay male, I wondered just how “gay friendly” was Nairobi. This question l ed me to start an online search, which surprisingly brought me to the Gay and Lesbian Coali tion of Kenya (GALCK) and the innovative work of Ishtar MSM.

I immediately felt a connection with Ishtar’s commitment to empower men who have sex with men through providing direct services and advocating for this vulnerable community needs in both the healthcare and political arena. In my 17 years working within the field of HIV/AIDS, I have never before seen the level of dedication that Ishtar MSM staff has towards advancing the needs of gay and bisexual men. Such commitment is truly honorable.

Sadly, in my home city, there is no program solely committed towards gay and bisexual men. Previously, Baltimore City has had an organization that exclusively served African-American MSM and a local program aimed to decrease HIV/AIDS/STI within the overall gay male community. Unfortunately, both of these services were lost due to financial challenges in earlier 2012. Therefore, Ishtar MSM’s ability to continually act as a community resource is truly powerful.

My volunteer role with the organization includes helping maintain and increase Ishtar MSM’s capacity. I0 bring to the organization my considerable experience in working as both a direct service health educator and as a health service program administrator. I have helped Ishtar MSM with applying for grants that will help build its community services. In return, the program has helped me open my mind on how I can empower diverse clients and communities with health education and materials.

Again, I thank you for this opportunity to learn from you. Please know, I will continue to assist you regardless of where I am around the world.

Amani na Mshikamano, Phillip J. Lovett, Master’s Social Worker, Licensed Graduate Social Worker

Being a Lesbian and member of the LGBTI community, the discrimination and stigma that I have personally experienced has made want to speak up for equality and human rights for all irrespective of our gender, sexuality, and social status. This doubled up with my personal goal to give back to the community and also make it a safer place not only for us but for future generations of the LGBTI in Kenya, are the main reasons I volunteered at ISHTAR-MSM. “I’m grateful for the opportunities that ISHTAR has provided to develop my experience and expertise all in the goal of advancing my career. I’m currently volunteering in the communications department where I’m assisting the communication officer to perform his duties which include, developing the bi-monthly Ishtar newsletter and regular updating of the ISHTAR website and ISHTAR social networking accounts among others. My stay at ISHTAR has been great and I’m looking forward to better days as we seek to reduce stigma and discrimination, advance sexual health rights and social well being for MSM and the LGBTI community at large.

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Ishtar Newsletter July issue

Ishtar-MSM Needs Assessment Project ISHTAR MSM with funding from COC in Netherlands will be carrying out a needs assessment project, with the aim of having informed, and evidence approach in HIV/AIDS programming. We are currently in the process of sourcing a competent consultant with a public health background to assist in carrying out this project. In view of this, we hereby invite applicants to send in their resumes. The findings of this process will guide ISHTAR-MSM in its five years programming, inform policy and help in guiding MSM health programming in Kenya. key to know that ISHTAR was nominated to represent key populations in the national steering committee at the National Aids Control Council. Ishtar is currently constituting a committee that will guide the consultant in the process, review the necessary proposals to the ethical review committee and develop questionnaires. We will keep you updated on the progress of this project. For further information contact the Health/Programs Officer via or , or

Tukuje Pamoja Monitoring & Evaluation Project Ishtar MSM—a community based organization that advances sexual health rights of men that have sex with men to reduce the stigma and discrimination aliened with them by creating awareness with the aim of advocating for their rights to access health care, including STI/HIV and AIDS related care and treat ment. Ishtar-MSM is a bona fide member group of The Gay & Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK). An organization’s success is determined by how well it achieves its goals and adheres to its mandate. Ishtar is no exception; therefore a clear, well defined strategy and policies are in order. Ishtar being a community based organization re quires that it not only involves its members of the LGBTI com munity but also allies who may not be necessarily MSM identifying towards advancing sexual health rights for men who have sex with men. To this end, Ishtar with funding from UHAI-East African Sexual Health and Rights Initiative (EASHRI) rolled out a Monitoring and Evaluation programme for its first projects. The purpose of this process is to evaluate Ishtar work, impact, outcomes and critique Ishtar’s past work. After this, Ishtar-MSM intends to use the findings to develop concept papers, proposals and also redesign Ishtar’s future programs. For this particular purpose the organization has engaged consultancy services from John Paul Omollo and George Ngugi whose profiles constitute public health and clinical backgrounds respectively. The two will guide ISHTAR-MSM through the process. The project started in June 1st 2012 and is set to end on the 31st of August. For more information on this do contact Jeffrey Walimbwa the Health/Programs Officer Ishtar-MSM via

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Solo Interview Solo, the outgoing programs coordinator at GALCK took a little time off his busy schedule time to answer a few questions about him, his former position and hopefully his personal life.

How would you describe or define Solo the man? A hardworking and passionate activist who began activism in 2006 through Ishtar MSM, officially started working for GALCK in 2009. Mind filling us in on your educational and professional background I am presently pursuing a post graduate diploma in Project management, and I have attended so many colleges for different courses. I went to Moi Forces Academy High school. My time in high school and college was very challenging being a young gay man I faced a lot of stigma and discrimination, I overcome them by becoming exceptionally good at what I did, this made my classmates warm up to me since most of the time they needed my help. Talking about ISHSTAR and GALCK, tell us how the Transition from the former to the latter was, was it smooth all the way as you would like us to believe or is there some juice somewhere in there? I was the finance officer at ISHTAR when I volunteered as the programs coordinating officer at GALCK, therefore my move was gradual and smooth as I was able to work for both Ishtar and GALCK for a while. But when the workload at GALCK become overwhelming, we thought it fair to let other people get on board so I left ISHTAR but I still give technical assistance when I’m needed to. Everyone has been finding it comfortable and at ease working with you at GALCK. How did you manage to keep everyone (Umbrella organizations) happy, do you feel bad about leaving or are you glad you are leaving? I can say it’s all about passion. If you are passionate about what you do and you love your job, the positive energy reflects on the people around you. Secondly it’s about humility, being humble enough to learn from others because everyone has something special to offer. I have applied this concept by making myself accessible so that people feel comfortable to approach me for questions or help, not letting my status or position be intimidating and not putting people down in spite or despite. I will definitely miss the coalition.

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Word on the street is that you are in a relationship. Mind clueing us in on how you met and how you have continued with the relationship? (Chuckling he says) This is an open secret. We met at a social function and have been together for most part of my years as an activist, years that I’m not going to disclose. Though we lead very busy lives, we always find time to just sit down and catch up on work and other stuff, we have always made sure we have an open communication and support each other in our carriers. There are always challenges that come with being in a gay relationship like pressure from friends and family, but we always support each other and are there for each other. My boyfriend is a great guy and our difference in height and body structure has made people liken our relationship to that of Jada and Will Smith. So where are you are moving? And do you think the opportunity will be in line with sexual and gender minority, organizing or health? Although I’m not in a position to disclose exactly where I’m going, I will still be working with gender and social minorities in Kenya, just broadening my horizon to include East Africa as well. It’s not good for one to get too comfortable, so I’m spreading my wings. And yes I will continue the great work we’ve started here. I will still be part of the community and be available for consultation. I will greatly miss the coalition. It has been a great experience and an eye opener for me. I’m happy to see more activists come aboard and the coalition’s future has never looked brighter. We take this opportunity to wish Solo all the best in his future endeavors. Interview by Yvonne.

The Online Pride Radio Pride Online is a Kenyan-based online radio project for the LGBTI community. The project is jointly run by ISHTAR-MSM and AFRAKENYA and coordinated, monitored and evaluated by The Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK). The online platform through which Pride Online will air is which is administered by AFRA-KENYA and GAY-KENYA TRUST. The overall objective of the project is to create greater awareness of LGBTI issues and push for advocacy that advances equality and non-discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in an open and fast growing online platform. We are already through with the selection of the Show Producer and Show Presenter and are looking forward to the commencing of the project next month.

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Newsletter Title

So (the director ISHTARISHTAR-MSM) Pete’s as he’d like to be called is to represent ISHTAR at the AIDS conference in Washington DC later this month. I sat down with him to find out what his plans for the trip are, what he is taking there and what he intends to bring back. back

Hello Pete’s you have been with ISHTARISHTAR-MSM for the longest time, what is your experience with ISHTAR. How did you start and get to be the director. rector It was in 2003 and I was in college when I first meet people from Ishtar through a friend, then they were just a group of people that meet from time to time. In our school we had formed a youth group that focused on HIV/AIDS awareness; this is where I learned peer education. When I first asked to join them for the meetings, they meet every Sunday afternoon at Liverpool VCT, they didn’t know I was gay but since most lucked in HIV/AIDS awareness I took this chance to educate and inform them since I had a background in this. I become vocal and active and after coming out to them, they made me the secretary general. In 2005, we started having consultations with the government through the national AIDS counsel and in 2006 the MSM in Kenya were recognized as a vulnerable group and were included in the national plan. This was a mile stone for us and after an East African conference in Nairobi, GALCK was formed. At that time there were different groups working separately and we thought of forming a coalition that will bring us together and audit the finances. In 2007 we had a World Social Forum and finally GALCK and the LGBTI community in Kenya was able to come out and be involved. I was part of the organizing committee and was even interviewed by Caroline Mutoko of KISS FM on the big breakfast. This came with a backlash and a little set back, our website was brought down, our members were being threatened and attacked. This included one of Ishtar’s founding members Ivy, he got an asylum in The USA and had to leave the country in a rush. I was the assistant chair person then and had to step up and was officially recognized in 2008 as Ishtar’s director.

Tell us about the conference, how many organizations are involved and from which countries? And how did you get to be part of such a prestigious conference? conference This is an International AIDS conference that occurs every two years. All the countries in the world are in attendance. They send their delegates to give a report on what their countries are doing in regards to HIV/AIDS prevention and cure and if they’ve kept the promises they made in the previous conference. We get to interact with dignitaries and find a high platform to discuss our issues and ask questions. We get to learn a lot a lot about what’s happening in other countries in terms of HIV/AIDS, new researches and the level of the ongoing ones.

What are you bringing to the table? How do you intend to represent us? Right now at Ishtar we are doing Fund mobilization and this will be an opportune time for me to fund raise. This platform also gives Ishtar the opportunity to network and form new partnerships that I will maximize on. We will also have a space where we will be required to showcase what Ishtar has been doing for the past two years.

What should we expect from Pete’s when you get back? This will be a great learning for me and I will bring it back home. The fundraising, networking and partnerships will go a long way to elevate Ishtar to greater levels. IL take this opportunity to thank our sponsors COC Netherlands who have made my trip possible and The USA embassy for providing me with a visa without much difficulty.

We wish Pete’s a pleasant flight as we await his return. Interview by Yvonne.

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COMING OUT One of the hardest things a gay person has to go through is coming out. The worst part about it is that it a circle that never ends and one has to do it over and over again. First it’s usually family, then friends, probably classmate/ workmates, in no particular order. When you are done, you have to undergo this process again. Extended family, those in most case are totally negative and are just looking for gossip. Then there are the friends of friends, who want to either hook up with you to experiment or hook you up with their friends. And there are the classmates/workmates that heard it from someone else and want to confirm if it’s accurate. So one finds themselves having to come out times over. The one thing the people we come out to don’t understand is the constant worry, stress and anguish that comes with hiding it or being closeted, and the more of it that comes with actually saying it out loud. One worries about how the people you are telling will take it, how they will react and the effect the information will have on the relationship. Will my parents disown me? Will my friend want to speak to me again? Will these be ground for discrimination at work/school? All these questions run through one’s mind and can be nerve wrecking. One Alan says “I stressed for 24 hours....and actually got an ulcer from the worry. I finally broke down, called my mother, and told her I had something to tell her. I was in tears. I thought my life was over, and was afraid her and my father would disown me. I had 2 friends who had recently come out to their parents, and they had no relationships with their parents any more. I had always been close to both my parents, and couldn’t bare the thought of losing them “ When it’s all said and done, coming out is the bravest thing one can do, and if the people you tell it to take it positively it’s the first thing they will tell you. Its risking everything and being bold enough to say this is me while being uncertain that the person will like it or be cool with it. It’s never going to be easy to let people know you are gay, especially if you are from a conservative environment. One thing we should remember is not to underestimate your family or friends and the love they have for you. Love conquers and is greater than anything else. In life you’ll loose some and win some, if you get your comfort and freedom n the process then why not?

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Ishtar Newsletter July issue

ISHTAR MSM OPEN FORUM The main objective of this meeting was to: - Review the sample questioners and development of the same. - Find out from members their expectations of ISHTAR in both projects. - Update them on upcoming proposals and fund raisings initiatives. - Get to know from them the challenges they are facing in terms of health services and review the services offered at the drop in centre. This was an interactive forum whose findings will form core pillars in social and MSM health and social well being.

Bridging the Gap Project Ishtar MSM—a community based organization that advances sexual health rights of men that have sex with men to reduce the stigma and discrimination aliened with them by creating awareness with the aim of advocating for their rights to access health care, including STI/HIV and AIDS related care and treatment. Ishtar-MSM is a bona fide member group of The Gay & Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK). It’s in the following of ISHTAR’s mission that we have consulted Angus Parkinson to run the Needs assessment project. This is a health assessment program that will provide in depth knowledge on HIV prevention and cure that will be funded by COC Netherlands. Angus is a qualified nurse holding multiple short courses in clinical care and HIV management, as well as a post-graduate diploma in Tropical Nursing. He holds a Masters (LLM with Merit) in Gender, Sexuality and Human Rights Law. He also has eight years post-graduate experience in evidence-based HIV and sexual health program assessment, design, implementation and evaluation in the East Africa region. With his Breadth and depth of experience in policy and strategy formulation, analysis and review at organizational and national level with focus on men who have sex with men (MSM), LGBTI and other ‘most at-risk populations’, we found him best suited for the job. The entire process which commenced the 10th of July, 2012 will run until the end of August 2012. It will give evidence approach to HIV/AIDS programming for the next five years under the Schorer funding. Feel free to channel any queries on this process to or

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For information contact: Oficce Line +254 020 249 7228 Email For comments contact Email or , Website:

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