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The Voice in the Wilderness

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As an activist, I endeavor to restore hope and purpose to the social minorities, vulnerable and disadvantaged women, youth and children through advocacy and capacity building programs in the slums of Kenya. My dream is to have a holistic society where none is discriminated against. Among other issues I will be sharing with the global community as a board member is the plight of orphans and vulnerable children, gender based sexual violence, substance and drug abuse, HIV and Aids, human sexuality and sexual orientation.

However, the issue of Sexual Orientation continues to draw negative reactions globally among them; the politicians, religious leaders, community leaders, and majority of people including family members who happen to look down upon the sexual minorities and reject them because of their sexual orientation.

Due to religious and cultural homophobia and transphobia most LGBTI globally and specifically in Kenya are living in fear and in the closet. Some have met both physical and spiritual violence making them to run a way and live in isolation; sometimes seeking asylum in other countries where their human rights can be respected. There are some youth who have committed suicide because of realizing that they are gay or lesbian and cannot change their sexual orientation.

Hardly a day goes by without the situation in Kenya getting worse for LGBTI people, with the country's parliamentarians, religious leaders and the media ganging up together to ostracize the LGBTI community and trying to woo the public to considering one of the most homophobic and anti-gay draft constitution. There exist expressions of prejudice about and stereotyping of LGBTI due to their sexual orientation. This if not addressed will feed discrimination, harassment and violence already experienced by LGBTI.

The LGBTI community in Africa and Kenya in particular undergo a lot of suffering in view of human rights in silence because of ignorance and cultural stereotypes. Many people don't like talking about this issue and is treated as taboo in our African setting. Africa is a sleeping giant when it comes to issues of human Sexuality. That is why it is important to conduct. Capacity Building seminars targeting the clergy and laity addressing issues of the Bible and Homosexuality, the Sheikhs and Imams, Science of sexual orientation and counseling of LGBTI and PFLAG are crucial in this part of the world. The purpose is to create an environment of social justice and reduce discrimination, physical and spiritual violence towards homosexuals.
There are a lot people in our community suffering silently who are prisoners of socio-economic and political injustices because of lack of serious empowerment programs in the field of human rights and gender issues. In every major political and social movement women have not been on the forefront of the cause in Kenya. As 30% of the national population, women have potential that remains untapped in national movement to fight for social justice. Majority of the women are suffering silently because of ignorance and fear. If women and their families are sensitized about their human rights they will be better prepared to exercise those rights to develop their individual and community’s capacity. Improved access to services including human rights organizations, psychosocial and legal assistance for women whose human rights are abused is my dream.
Being the Chief Executive Officer of Riruta United Women Empowerment Programme NGO was crowned in 2008 by Linda Bales Todd, director of More Louise Hughes Population Project of General Board of Church and Society for my selfless, dedication and commitment towards the suffering, vulnerable and marginalized women, youth and children in Africa. I still have the passion to serve and speak for the suffering humanity.
I was awarded a finalist’s certificate of the Voice in the Wilderness Award in Colorado, USA during the Reconciling Ministries Network Convocation in Sep, 2009. This is an award for persons who take risks to proclaim the righteousness of inclusion for all people in the church, and stands against injustice in places of isolation.
I was sacked from Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology as an assistant lecturer after it was noted that I was LGBTI affirming and inclusive.
I am also the advisory counselor of Other Sheep East Africa. I counsel LGBTI and PFLAG in Kenya giving them hope and purpose in life. I do conduct seminars to reduce stigma, discrimination, rejection and homophobia/transphobia in Kenya.

As a board member of World Pulse, among other responsibilities I will endeavor to: Empower women to lead peer education and development projects to increase awareness of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Gender issues.

Comments

Phinnie's picture

My heart goes out to you

Thank you for sharing the struggles you face and your persistence to give LBGTI Kenyans hope and purpose. As a Lesbian in the U.S. my life is easier but not always easy. When will our world be a place that celebrates all loving relationships and celebrates diversity?
I am grateful for World Pulse for giving us the opportunity to share with one another!
I wish you peace and acceptance!

PHINNIE

Riruta UW Empowerment Programme's picture

Re: Acceptance and peace

Phinnie,
Yes with determination and persistence the world will come to listen. It is difficult but we are making it and many are seeing the other side of the coin. The hurdles are many and tough but armed with truth we shall overcome. Africa has been pretending for long that it is un African but now it is seeing the sense though half heartedly.

Justice and Joy

Anne Khadudu Baraza,
CEO- Riruta United Women Empowerment Programme
+254 729880651/ 020 2602803
!27-00502 Karen, Nairobi Kenya

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