July 13, 2018

Mobile Apps for Sexual Health #OutWithIt

Written by MPACT Global (formerly MSMGF) and Dumiso Gatsha

Dumiso Gatsha and his partners at Success Capital NGO have proposed an app to provide access to services for communities of LGBTIQ+ people and sex workers in Botswana.

Dumi and his partners are one of twelve teams led by youth advocates from around the world who will join us for Out With It: Community Solutions for the Sexual Health and Rights of Young Gay and Bisexual Men. These twelve teams will have the chance to present and workshop their solutions at our event in Amsterdam on July 22nd, 2018. Help support this event: https://bit.ly/2mu5Q1j

Dumi.jpgMPact: Tell us a little about yourself!

Dumi: I was born in Zimbabwe where my grandmother was a domestic worker for most of her adult life. I grew up in and am a citizen of Botswana, with my adolescent and developmental years in post-apartheid Potchefstroom and Pretoria, South Africa. The complexities of socioeconomic challenge, rapid impact of technology and managing societal expectations meant I was ignorant of a lot of injustices I faced. I realized I had been ‘built’ to survive in overtly masculine, Afrikaans and African spaces with little freedoms to understand my confusions, self-conflict, becoming and experiences. These lived experiences are my own to keep and have power over – but they have influenced my activism, radical thinking and fearlessness against any form, environment or space of privilege, power or authority. My multidisciplinary education has harnessed the more ‘acceptable’ side of my activism in engaging gate keepers, strategic messaging and intellectual leadership. I’m a lover of food, singing and asking questions.

M: How did you get involved in this project?

D: I only accepted myself in my second year of university after a nervous breakdown. This led to small pockets of community engagement at a micro volunteering level. Upon my return home, I read an article on an activist I greatly admired and questioned why there should only be one face challenging our complex intolerant country. This led me to volunteering whilst working.

Having been unexpectedly thrust to elected leadership at 23, there were a lot of tough lessons I learned. This resulted in accelerating my education and exposure in human rights work whilst establishing an organisation that is led, managed, focused on and serves young LGBTIQ+ people, psyches, bodies and experiences. Our project was a result of extensive consultations and one of the solution to the challenges documented in a research study on lived experiences we had carried out.

The consultations led to establishing a small working group of diverse volunteers with a wide range of skills in 1) MSM HIV testing and counselling servicing (Oabona), 2) App Development (Phio), 3) Visual Engagement (Tshepo), 4) Non-binary Representation (Obakeng) and 5) Strategy, Law & Programming (myself). It was directed at a specific grant opportunity which we were shortlisted for but lost out on a couple of months ago. Out With It has provided us with a platform to further harness this game changing concept for better understanding our community and exploring ways of realizing this dream into reality.

M: Tell us more about the challenge your solution aims to address.

D: Sexual health remains a mystery for socio-behavioral change schools of thought. Despite condoms and lubricants being distributed and state level health services touted as ‘comprehensive’ and inclusive to key populations; new HIV incidences remain on the rise, condom use is declining and STI screenings reveal continued risky behaviours. Advancements such as PrEP and HIV self-testing have significant policy making challenges ahead. In addition, the non-accommodative legal, cultural and societal constructs perpetuate stigma and discrimination in a way that has been proved to limit access to health, meaningful employment and enjoyment of rights embedded within Chapter 2 of Botswana’s Constitution (Bill of Rights).

M: What are you most looking forward to during “Out With It”?

D: Learning from other experiences and solutions in person remains one of the most impactful ways for one to be informed. Since body language contributes approx. 60% of a conversation, one can imagine what is missed in an experience that is not based on human contact and connection. MSMGF’s partners and stakeholders are an integral component of the Out With It experience as it can lead to collaboration, technical insight and tacit knowledge on the solution we’re building. We look forward to seeing how the credibility, institutional enablers and convening power of MSMGF will truly redefine how to turn young people’s ideas into action and meaningful impact. Our experiences remain central to the design, utility and aesthetic of our project. This will be the first time that our grass roots level lived experiences are brought to the forefront at an international platform; in our voice, through our people.

The Out With It Pre-Meeting and Reception is a day-long interactive youth-led event centered around generating and refining innovative, community-led solutions for the sexual health and rights of young gay and bisexual men.

Join us on July 22nd, 2018 at the KIT Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Click here to learn more.