CHanGE (Campaign for sexual Health & Gender Equality) is an UCOS project on gender equality and sexual and reproductive rights and health (SRHR). Together with our partners in the Global South and our students in the North we strengthen public support within Flanders for the global struggle for gender equality and access to SRHR. Through this project and our effort, we contribute to a powerful international movement.

Each new academic year, a group of young and motivated CHanGEmakers from Belgium joins grassroot organisations in the global South. Students actively engage with the partner organisations, and share their experiences and stories about local activists with the Flemish public. By placing the activities of our partners in the spotlights, we don’t only increase their impact, but we also shine a light on how change happens around the world.

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“Je ne peux pas abandonner ma communauté / I cannot abandon my community.”⁣
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Bibe Kalalu had to leave his home in Congo after being prosecuted because of his sexual orientation. Once he arrived in Kampala in 2007, he was confronted with isolation because of a government funded prosecution of LGBTI persons. Realizing there was little support within the broader queer community for the specific struggles that queer refugees face, Bibe founded the Angels Refugee Support Group in 2009.⁣
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Despite of the challenges, Bibe and his Angels have succeeded in reaching out to queer refugees in Kampala and in various refugee settlements within Uganda, providing counseling, shelter, vocational training, medical and even legal support. ⁣ ⁣

Queer refugees have to ‘pass as straight’ for the police in order to access a refugee status. A big part of the Angels activities is preparing their members for the asylum procedure while working closely together with international organisations that are supposed to defend their rights. “Quand on part là-bas, on fait la guerre pour avoir un document. ça prend du temps./ When we meet with the officials, it’s war to access the legal documents. It takes time.”⁣
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All of Uganda's photos are made by Michelle Geerardyn.⁣
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#queerrefugees #refugees #UforChange #Uganda #Kampala #gender #genderequality⁣
#LGBT #SRHR #migration #refugees #humanrights #ucos #gayrights #activism⁣
#lgbtactivism #advocacy #translivesmatter #gaylivesmatter #intersectionality⁣
#stophomophobia #stoptransphobia⁣
“I use my creative arts for the protection and promotion of the LGBTIQ community, that’s what I do.”⁣
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Natasha Kusiima is a true feminist entrepreneur and activist. After facing sexual harassment at her job and being outed as a lesbian to her family she realized: “I can’t do this people pleasing anymore, let’s just do me full time. So I opened a fashion brand.” Not only does she stand her ground in the fashion world by, how she puts it so strongly, “claiming the space”, she also created Simma Africa. Through this creative arts foundation she tries to economically empower the LGBTIQ youth and urban refugees in Uganda by training people into skilled, independent individuals through her art and fashion. “So many try to help people in the community but they don’t understand that people need money, so they can make their own decisions.” ⁣
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And as a cherry on the pie her foundation created ‘Hair chronicles” - shared hair love and struggles- to break the ice and start conversations with refugees, feminists and discuss strategies on how to build a more inclusive LGBTIQ community. ⁣

#ucos #change #humanrights #lgbt+ #uganda #srhr #genderequality #simma
“When you hear people start questioning the status quo, then you know you have made an impact.”⁣
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Mama FM is a hyper inclusive feminist radio station and their main concern is representation of women in the media. Women’s issues are rarely reported and when they are, it’s often in a negative and stigmatising way. Mama FM tries to change the narrative by promoting local female artists on ‘Female Tuesday’, spreading information on women’s health and breaking taboos little by little. ⁣
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Their work goes beyond the scope of just making radio. They give sensitive media training, include disabled people and the LGBTQ+ community in their activities and try to close the gap between the media and women who have grown sceptical of reporters. ⁣
When there is funding, they present the Gender Media Awards. These go out to media houses, newspapers and independent writers who make gender conscious reports. ⁣
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Mama FM isn’t recognised by the government and everyone works voluntarily. However, with the little resources they have, they make a difference in the perception of women and minorities in society. ⁣
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#mamafm #feminism #genderequality #radio #feministradio #uganda #humanrights #ucos #change ⁣
“Unfortunately, most of the humanitarian actors that work with refugees don’t have programs⁣ for LGBTI refugees in Uganda.”⁣
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Meet Asan Juma. In 2016, she founded the LGBTI organization Access For All (AFA) in her⁣ home country South Sudan. Only a year later, in 2017, their office was raided by the⁣ government and she and her friends had to flee to Uganda. Since she didn’t see it possible⁣ to be her true self in one of the settlements, she now lives as an urban refugee in Kampala.⁣
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She discovered the lack of support for queer refugees in her country of arrival and decided⁣ to continue her activism. Access For All is starting a second life in Uganda. Even though the⁣ means are very scarce, they’re creating a safe space and trying to provide basic services,⁣ such as handing out condoms and lubricants. Other than that, she founded an all-female⁣ football team, and is organizing events to help the queer community with digital literacy.⁣
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Asan is the kind of person that will keep on surprising you. Shy and a little quiet, but with an⁣ endless energy and motivation to help her community.⁣
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#queerrefugees #refugees #UforChange #Uganda #Kampala #gender #genderequality⁣
#LGBT #SRHR #migration #refugees #humanrights #ucos #gayrights #activism⁣
#lgbtactivism #advocacy #intersectionality
“Music makes people forget their worries for a moment.”⁣
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Faridah is a young Congolese woman who fled her country after her mother was murdered. She lives in the Kyaka II refugee settlement and tries to motivate young people in several⁣ ways. Together with her brother, she built a recording studio from scratch. They record⁣ songs about life at the settlement (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaHgomV4Exg) and always try to do so with a positive⁣ message.⁣
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Besides that, she is part of the Youth Parliament, where the voices of young people at the⁣ settlement are heard and truly considered. The lack of a sense of direction and purpose is a⁣ problem at the settlement. There is little distraction and it’s tempting to get involved in illegal⁣ activities. But thanks to people like Faridah, young people feel valued, heard and⁣
appreciated. It was one of the most heartwarming moments of the trip to see her approach⁣ every small group of youngsters she comes across. She takes her time to listen to them and⁣ inspire and support them with her mini motivational speeches.⁣
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#uganda #srhr #youthparliament #ucos #change #refugeesettlement #youthempowerment⁣
#music #kyaka⁣
“Wrong information is going around. I wanted to help my fellow peers.”⁣
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The Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum (UYAHF) is an organisation that seeks to⁣ improve the well-being and health of young people with an emphasis on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and gender equality.⁣
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They recently started a project in the Kyegegwa district, where the Kyaka II refugee⁣ settlement is situated. This district has alarming numbers of child marriages and teenage⁣ pregnancies. Determined to do something about this, UYAHF recruited a highly motivated⁣ group of Change Champions. They are trained on various SRHR topics and go out to spread⁣ the word. This peer to peer approach can be the key in creating an empowered community⁣ where young people are aware of their options and make informed decisions.⁣
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Their mentor is Winnie Apio (2nd photo), programme officer at UYAHF, whose inspiring⁣ energy makes her a true role model for the youngsters.⁣
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#uyafh #srhr #genderequality #uganda #ucos #change⁣
#youthempowerment #refugeesettlement #kyaka

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