Thursday, May 8, 2014

Aphrodite’s P.R.I.D.E. Jamaica Seismic Project Summary 2014

Project Title: SEISMIC! A social engagement programme for LGBT youth 

Project Objective: Provide psycho social and enterprise development skills training services for LGBTQI youth 

Implementer: Aphrodite’s P.R.I.D.E. Jamaica 

Start date: November 23, 2013 

End date: March 30, 2014 

The Project impacted a cohort of 35 participants in total and the stated objective of providing psycho social and enterprise development skills training services for LGBTQI youth was achieved. The first goal to be accomplished was to engage participants in participatory introspection /self awareness and to improve self esteem. Participants were also engaged in sessions geared towards them learning how to be effective communicators. These included but were not limited to modules such as “Telling Our Stories” "Conflict Resolution” "Safety" and “Effective Communication”.

The enterprise training component of the project was continuous, in that each workshop had an aspect of enterprise training that could be linked to the psycho social development of participants. As the weeks progressed participants were allowed to talk about their business ideas and were given feedback on same. At the end of the series all participants who were interested in becoming owners of businesses had a fully mapped out business idea in writing. 

Two additional workshop sessions and two gatherings/lymes were added to what was originally an 11 session series of workshops. This meant that in some instances funds were stretched thin; however the forecasted impact of the additional sessions required this strategic move and this led to the strengthening of Community and fellowship. At the end of each session for every scheduled workshop participants were asked to complete evaluation forms which were used as the basis for the information provided in this overview.

The mixed method approach taken with the design of the data collection instrument allowed participants to be as general but also as specific as they needed to be in their response to particular questions. The wrap up session which included a one on one discussion with all facilitators highlighted the impact that sessions including but not limited to self-esteem, coming out, sexuality, and conflict resolution etcetera, had on the day to day activities of the group. In general, participants felt they were better able to navigate space given their deepened understating of the normative structure and the political landscape of Jamaica. 

Support was given for three participants to attend the Dr. Ena Thomas Symposium on Sexual health awareness at the Pegasus and also the Gender Symposium jointly held by IGDS and UWIHARP. The focus/objective of these meetings were to share current thinking about sexual diversities, behaviours and gender identities in the Caribbean across a variety of fields – HIV, safe spaces, legal entitlements, visibility etcetera.

Aphrodite’s P.R.I.D.E. Jamaica also successfully facilitated the procurement of a scholarship for a participant to attend the World Conference on Youth in Sri Lanka 5-10 May, 2014.

Two male participants who ran into some issues while on the project: See more HERE

Throughout the programme a total of 11 participants benefited from the crisis intervention aspect of the project as number of participants experienced challenges including displacement that required substantial intervention and counselling.

one of the last photos I took of Jermaine in January 2014 prior to his passing

In addition to these incidents, unfortunately one participant died from a heart condition and this unforeseen event resulted in a lot of sadness which APJ tried to manage through one on one counselling sessions with trained professionals. 

Based on testimonials from some participants regarding the project we were able to glean the SEISMIC! impact and the necessity to continue the growing and learning process.

The following are excerpts from two such testimonials: 

‘... With each day that passed I felt unloved and unwanted in a world that songs, preachers and members of the government body condemned me to death or to hell... I became disgusted with myself and the personal shame that came with it slowly withered away my life and I thought several times about just ending it all. In a world of definitions I felt undefined and misunderstood, though I could not blame them as I too did not understand who or what I was... After joining the SEISMIC workshop I am now in state of uncontrollable bliss, The stride that I so long lusted after, the smile that tore at my heart are a few things that I now portray with a strong sense of confidence no longer do I hide in the dark ashamed of who I am, no longer do I judge others for who they are nor am I affected by what I’m seen as by others, Because of SEISMIC a rather suitable name, I am not only of a better understanding of what it means to be a business and the work that goes into starting and maintain one, I had friends to support me In a difficult time in my life as the “love chamber as it was known” I lost someone dear to me a fellow MSM who had to face some of the same struggles I had faced and because of this reason and the SEISMIC program I am now open to help support other MSM’s who are facing the issues that I faced and many more to help develop them to be who they are meant to be as individuals and that though they are currently living in a country where they have to abide to some extent to the society’s gender norms and socialization that comes along with it, they know that that there someone is here to support them along with member of Aphrodite's PRIDE Jamaica...’ 

‘...Aphrodite’s Pride Workshop was an educational one with tons of fun; it was spirited and reflective. Worthwhile sessions were done to motivate our inner -beings. We gain courage; the sessions were thought-provoking and smooth; the facilitators were professional. The Aphrodite’s Pride Workshop give me hope, rejuvenate my aims and allow me to appreciate myself more, I found myself want to be more than just an average citizen working in a minimal position. I am more polite, bold and know how to control myself. The team helped us to understand more about self- actualization. My reason to endure in my career path and lifespan has been enlarged. Participants were inspired and motivated as mutual stories were among the group. The facilitating team was extraordinary and well- organized. The strategies used throughout the presentations were fantastic; filled with critical thinking which allows us to participate equally. The facilitators were honest, open dedicated, enthusiastic and firm. 

It is evident that the benefits of this project will be sustained as participants have begun the process of self actualisation in terms of their stated goals at the beginning of the process. The reality however is that when examining issues affecting the psycho social development of persons, particularly our youth, the process has to be done over an extended period of time, and it is important not to try to address too many issues in a single project. Many have made life altering decisions based off their interactions and what they have learned during the process. For example several have started to apply skills garnered in the enterprise skills training sessions, effective communication and grooming and etiquette sessions to name a few. Participants have used the information to strengthen and in some cases initiated realistic entrepreneurial endeavours particularly in catering, housekeeping, small scale manufacturing and cosmetology.

Peace and tolerance

for further information contact
Howard Fulton
Outreach Coordinator

also see more on the project HERE


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