Q And A Forum: Will "Shit-hole" Countries Prove Donald Trump Right Through PEPFAR?
So, he called you "shithole countries," right? But, he has given you PEPFAR funds targeting your own people living with HIV. Guess what is happening?
The grant managers have lined up brothers, sisters, cousins, friends and in-laws and formed organizations such as: "Bakyaala byekoza bitya" Group, "One by One makes a Bundle" Group, "Teleera Nkukube" Group and 10 others which they have defined as KP-led but which we can call "Unknown Fake Organizations!" UFO's. These UFOs are flying high and mighty!
The funny part is that even among those that are eligible and genuine KP-led are some partly Fake Organizations (PFO). There is this "KP" organization with the same person having all three roles: Executive Director, treasurer and sole member of the organization. But, this person is known to be an elephant in the room. Blocks out all light, is incapable of logical diction as far as what it means to engage in HIV-Prevention. However, is now so high up and a member of the KP-Consortium Board ( Lord Have Mercy!).
There are those organizations that are fine, are KP-led have been engaged in actual HIV-prevention work for a long time but were not funded at all because they are not "liked" by the leaders within the KP-consortium. You see, these leaders cherry pick who to work with. They get to invite only those they want to and not those they are supposed to. One KP-led organization has written a letter to be part of the KP-Consortium twice but there is no sign they will get an answer (Be fair!).
So, there is an inequality among KP-led organizations' service status. There are two forms of KP-led organizations: The ones that are termed Strategic Litigation/Human Rights Defender organizations. The second type are the Strategic HIV/Public Health Human Rights of People Living With HIV Defender organizations.
Strategic Litigation/Human Rights Defender organizations, received Human Rights Defender funds from HIVOS, Emergency Fund, Rapid Relief Fund (Frontline AIDS), Elton John, RFSL, UHAI and the like for over 15 years. They have done commendable work. These can afford office blocks, paying staff, having fresh change of clothes to show and all amenities. They have done wonderful work. Some of them have office furniture one only sees in ministerial and government departments. Meanwhile, there are LGBTIQQ living with HIV who need ARV-adherence support. Perhaps, they get so busy in court-related litigation. This is so fine too and it is much needed. But, let it also be a lesson that they need the HIV/Public health related organizations which do the grassroot HIV-Prevention work. This specialization, leaves them time to do quality litigation and that is commendable work they do indeed.
The Strategic HIV/Public Health Human Rights of People Living With HIV Defender organizations. These are the grassroots whose members knock on doors, pass the bread and water to the sick. They have never been funded consistently and some have to share offices. Now, the grant managers have instructed all of the groups applying to show "audited" reports as a criteria for eligibility. I know of groups whose members engage in sex-work, pull together the money they earn and plan how to care for other members living with HIV. Or, they have allies/friends who remit money via Western Union from Dubai, USA, Canada, Germany, Australia, Netherlands, Sweden, and UK. These unsung groups have been the backbone of grassroots HIV-Prevention, ARV-adherence and all other life seeking practices among KPs.
So, in order to call President Donald Trump's bluff let us all work as a team, generate uniform reporting goals and include all people applying (everyone has dignity-Binyavanga Wainaina) for PEPFAR funding:
1. Let us turn the UFOs into allies, ask them to come to a week's class and we train them in LGBTIQQ-Friendly Cultural Sensitivity and Dignity Affirming skills. We ask them to allow LGBTIQQ be part of their Management Review Committees.
2. Let us widen the number of KP-led organizations making up the Uganda KP-Consortium, have two year non-renewable terms for the coordinator. This creates a critical mass of upcoming LGBTIQQ leaders who will replace those who served for so long. Also, because after all in Uganda not all organizations are members under SMUG. Yet, this can create an opportunity to have a more inclusive representation.
3. There are KP-led organizations with the director being the treasurer, secretary, mobilizer all in one, with accounts signed by this sole person. Or if not this person surrounds themselves with sycophants they can bully. This and others like this organization should be called into the fold and provided opportunities for leadership, network building and organization development.
4. Strategic Litigation/Human Rights Defender organizations, have had a history of sustained funding. These should as much as possible, allow Strategic HIV/Public Health Human Rights of People Living With HIV Defender organizations to be part of the wholesome, appropriate and effective HIV Prevention, increased HIV Testing, ARV therapy seeking, ARV-adherence support for viral load suppression including companionship, housing, nutrition and livelihood.
Call President Donald Trump's bluff otherwise there is a risk of permanently being "shithole!" The way this money is used will support or subvert the presidential bluff.