Annual Newsletter – December 2020

A personal Thank you

First and foremost we would like to thank you all for being part of PHA since the beginning of our journey to date. Our 2020 began on a high note with us having one of our last Community Art Workshop in Gweru. To close off the project we revisited all the towns we had carried out the workshops in, tracking the progress of participants and recording a docuseries as part of our reflection journey. The Covid 19 pandemic, which affected all of us in various ways, forced us to put a temporary halt to our day to day activities, despite that we were fortunate enough to receive help from donors and partners who helped us distribute food and toiletry hampers to the rainbow families that were in need.

After restrategising we changed the Community Art Workshops project to Expressive Writing Camps. The project despite being similar, Expressive Writing Camps has a few major changes designed to enable better impact and service delivery. This year we have had the chance to implement two camps, in Harare and Bulawayo. The camps have reached 21 LGBTQI+ individuals and allies from 6 different cities. For 2021 we hope to take the project to smaller towns so as to reach new territory and voices. In addition we have also started documenting LGBTQI+ narratives, as a step towards humanizing our narratives.

We would like to thank all partners and donors for your formidable support which has helped us to continue growing and impacting LGBTQI+ lives in Zimbabwe. To continue impacting more lives and reaching out we are in constant need of your support in any form, donations in kind, monetary as well as in any other way you may find possible. For more details you can visit, http://www.purplehandafrica.org/donate/

 

Community Art Workshops

Participants at Gweru Community Art Workshop preparing artwork for their creative Advocacy

The Community Art Workshop project reached 4 towns in Zimbabwe namely Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare and Gweru. We directly reached a total of 39 LGBTIQ identifying individuals whose gender identity and sexual orientation cover the broad spectrum of our diverse identities. The project gave participants a chance to share their life stories in relation to challenges and successes. Topics and traumas discussed included issues of raped by people that supposedly want to “change” individuals from attraction to the same sex. With others talking about being disowned, experiencing police brutality and depression as a result of the challenges faced. Participant voices were also amplified when they got a chance to conceptualize, create and implement advocacy campaigns that spoke to their struggles, as a way of finding solutions to the challenges addressed. 

The workshops have been referred to by many as a dawn of hope for others who were on the breach of giving up, with others talking of it as a much needed project gap filler in terms of mental wellness service provision for the LGBTQI+ sector in Zimbabwe. Find below the summary video of the project.

 

Expressive Writing Camp

Participants discussing about Gender, Sexuality and Power Dynamics

The transition from Community Art Workshop to Expressive Writing Camps (EWC) was necessitated by the feedback received from participants and concerns raised in our monitoring and evaluation process. The structure of EWC allows for better bonding, sharing, exchange of culture and building of a stronger movement. Participants are selected from diverse gender and sexuality identities, coming from different parts of the country. The selection also caters for the inclusion of heterosexual individuals, so as to build allyship. The participants are brought together to share experiences and triumphs while staying under one roof together with the facilitators.

In September and November 2020, Purple Hand Africa carried out two expressive writing camps in Harare and Bulawayo, respectively reaching a total of 21 participants from a total of 7 areas across Zimbabwe. 2021 will see us hosting more workshops bi-monthly, with plans of branching out and including more smaller towns, especially areas without much exposure.

We would welcome support in any possible form for us to further strengthen the impact of the project. Well-wishers can assist by donating through our website, volunteering their time as facilitators for some of the sessions or providing any possible technical assistance. You can also contact us to talk some more on how you can possibly partner.

Audio Visual Storytelling – Documenting LGBTQI Lived Experiences

In July we embarked on a journey to revisit the 4 cities (Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare and Gweru) we held the Community Art Workshops (CAW) in. In our revisitations we met with the former participants to do a follow up as part of our monitoring and evaluation, while we also worked on a production of a four part docuseries. The first part of the docuseries tracked the progress and impact of the CAW project. The other parts of the docuseries focused on the effects of Covid 19 on the LGBTIQ community, Self-reflection through art, as well as the Cost of Exclusion on Zimbabwe’s development.

In our drive towards pushing for the humanizing of LGBTQI narratives, we embarked on yet another journey across Zimbabwe from the beginning of November. In our current journey we have been recording interviews for our upcoming docuseries which will focus on issues to do with mental wellness among the LGBTQI+ community in Zimbabwe, livelihoods and general humanising of LGBTQI+ narratives. The interviewees in this project have been chosen from a diverse pool of LGBTQI+ identifying individuals from all walks of life.

In order to avoid missing out on joining us in showcasing these lived experiences subscribe to our YouTube channel as well as follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Livelihood Promotion

Chickens for the Poultry Project in a fowl run
Poultry Project as part of the Livelihood Promotion Project for PHA

Zimbabwe’s unemployment rate is among the highest in Southern Africa, even though there are also some conflicting unemployment rate statistics standing at 4.95%. In reality most Zimbabweans survive through informal trade, which in most cases does not give adequate funds for a family to survive above the poverty datum line. According to a February 2020 British Council Report, only 24% of people between the ages of 18 and 35 in Zimbabwe are formally employed while the rest are either self-employed in the informal sector or are sitting at home without jobs. 

In this bleak economic reality that most people in the country are facing, LGBTQI young people are not spared. In most cases they might have even missed out on a chance of completing their academics to Tertiary level, after being disowned by people they financially depend on. Whereas for some with a qualification, it is again difficult to secure employment in the formal sector, mostly because of not conforming to “normal heteronormative” gender representation. A participant in one of our projects mentioned how at times, one might find employment, but would also either face unfair dismissal or would end up quitting after being mistreated by fellow colleagues and employers. Others who venture into the informal sector or self employment face prejudice and intolerance from the society. One interviewees for our docuseries project shared how he has been mocked for working in a supposedly female engendered occupation of Beauty Therapy. This was an experience he referred to as having caused him to go through a period of depression, fortunately he was able to pick himself from it. Through persevering in his career he has been able to change some people’s mindsets, in regards to their intolerance of the LGBTQI community.

As Purple Hand Africa one of our drives is to push for Livelihood Promotions, as a means of promoting self sustenance for members of the LGBTQI community. We also believe that when one comes in as a contributing citizen in their community, despite facing adversity from some members of the society, this comes also as a chance of proving that we are equally capable and can earn respect and acceptance when societies realise that LGBTIQ people are equally capable of becoming contributing citizens to the nation’s development.

From August 2019 to June 2020, we piloted our first Livelihood Project, through a Poultry Farming Project. In the project we managed to take the participants through the theoretical and practical training of the venture. In addition we also included Financial Literacy as part of the training. Our future goals are to push for more similar projects, which can assist in creating skills and ventures that participants in our projects can also rely on as a means of earning a living.

COVID 19 Assistance

The COVID 19 pandemic affected all of us in varying levels and left each of us with a memory of 2020 which brings shivers to others and tears to some. Personally we think of the time we fell into a depressive state, especially when I was watching TV and all the News channels reported on the ever spiking statistics of people that died from the pandemic. It is also sad that some of us lost loved ones to the pandemic and some lost their various sources of survival as the whole globe came to a standstill and lockdowns became the order of the day, which turned into weeks and months. Like most marginalised communities in the world, the LGBTQI community in Zimbabwe was equally affected in many ways. 

On one of the early morning’s I received a message from one of our former participants who shared how they were experiencing a tough time as they had run out of food, toiletries and was also out of money for paying their rent. Like a majority of LGBTQI people in Zimbabwe they earn their living through informal trade and because of the lockdown it was now difficult for them to continue with their trade. In most cases most people earning a living from the informal sector survive mostly from hand to mouth and with COVID 19 suddenly affecting everything, most did not even have savings to assist them through the difficult times. Others were now stuck with families that do not accept them because of their sexual or gender identity. Some suffered the trauma of not being able to interact with other LGBTQI people in safe spaces, which have become a place for one to have a peace of mind and interact with peers.

Purple Hand Africa collaborated with other organisations in the LGBTQI sector in the country, whereby we extended our support for some affected members of the community with food hampers, toiletries and sanitary ware. Even though life seems to be going back to normal, there still remains a bigger need for psychosocial support and general welfare support for members of the community who are still recovering from the effects of COVID 19 and the Lockdowns.

During the Lockdown period we also produced a short documentary on the Effects of COVID 19 on the Zimbabwean LGBTQI community which can be accessed below.

 

Closing Off 2020 and Making Way for 2021

The Purple Hand Africa team and participants would like to wish you all happy holidays and we wish you a prosperous 2021 that will be full of joyous moments. It has been enriching to have you as our valued partners that made it possible for lives to be changed through your support. We look forward to continuing with our partnership towards spreading the purple hand ink of love, acceptance and a victorious tomorrow, where Love and Diversity can be finally embraced by all.