The Choir for Hope: Voice of the Violated

This very last week has been a tormenting one for me, several thoughts kept invading my mind especially what I have in store for my needy community and with only a limitation of 700 words I wondered if this would be enough to express the great and burning ideas.

My personal vision as cited earlier is the light that shines in the darkness towards which I turn to find my way. I have a vision to share a lifetime of knowledge about people, community development and viable solutions on social problems with a vast international audience; creating positive impact to everyone, living a life dedicated to integrity, commitment, challenge and joy, striving to be the Social Change Pulse Rate Monitor. I have spoken in various foras and moved masses but I strongly feel that I need to incline my presentations to behaviour change.

To start with let me highlight a few examples of SW Rights which have been violated in my community: arrest by police on basis of mode of dressing, being out during “late hours” and walking in certain areas, resulting in gender based discrimination, police falsely arresting sex workers for purposes of extorting money from them, forced to give bribes on weekly schedule in exchange for freedom, beating and humiliation of SW in the custody by the police, worse still given insufficient food, sleeping on bare floor, forced to perform demeaning “cleaning chores” not forgetting violating body examinations by security guards.Lastly,rape and sexual assault by police in the custody and detainment for weeks to provide sexual and domestic services in the police residences is the order of the day, the Kenyan Government has also failed to ensure access to health services and support to Sex Workers through Peer Education and HIV Prevention thus violating the SW rights as described by the General Comment 14 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to enjoying highest attainable level of health.

Based on this violation of Sex Workers Rights, I have a mega dream for the self proclaiming SW. This dream will include formation of a SW Choir; the name shall be The Choir of Hope: Voice of the Voiceless, whose objectives shall be:  To reduce the number of SW engaged in Sex Work and encourage them to seek alternative livelihoods utilizing locally affordable and available resources e.g. cassette cord for weaving baskets and bottle tops for making table mats.  Through music and folk media advocate for the Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights, these shall be done in national foras eg republic celebrations, Human Rights foras and International Day to End Sexual Violence against Sex Workers commemorated on 17th December, targeting SW nationwide. The target for sensitization is law enforcers: The Judiciary, The Kenya Police, Ministry of Gender and Children Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs-Department of Probation and After Care Services, The Provincial Administration.  Through music and folk media advocate for behaviour change among SW, this encompasses reduction in the number of sexual partners, practice safe sex; this shall be done in hot spots.  To fight self and social stigma among MARPs and the community at large, currently SW have a big tag of negative labels around them as spreaders of STI and HIV, home breakers, financial pests etc, Manager, TOLIDP, Prevention Program, Narok.

 To educate the community on effects of gender based discrimination and gender based violence

I am dying to be a Voices of Our Future Correspondent because it’s a wonderful forum where I interact with like-minded women from whom I get insights and challenged to give back to the community. This is a media that shall help me in linking Sex Workers not only in the vicinity but in the country, secondly it gives me the opportunity for Resource Exchange-I shall utilize this in getting local and international market for the woven baskets and table mats, sourcing for financial support for national SW choir, male and female condoms, means of transport and sourcing of volunteer music instructors. Action Alert comes in handy in the whistle blowing on the violation of Human and Labor Rights of the Sex Workers by calling for action.

Take action! This post was submitted in response to Voices of Our Future Application: Your Vision.

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It is with much jubilation that i submit my last assignment as a VOF 2010,it has been an exciting experience and an informative too.How well can i describe the benefits,they are far too many.I take this opportunity to thank Sophie Ngugi who actually is the angel behind me knowing of World Pulse existence and encouragement to join.Secondly,to Olutosin who gave the first comment and even guided me in the posting of journal on realization i had posted wrongly.You all have made a positive impact in my life and i know for sure that this journey can only be more exciting.

carsongitau Empowered Woman

I know for certain the story you tell can be replicated in country after country around the world today. It is important to have a voice that is able to describe the truths and realities of life you encounter each day.

Your story brought me back to the time I spent interviewing Zimbabwean SW who had fled their country because of repression and lack of opportunity, but were suffering the same problems you have described trying to earn a living to feed their families.

Let me encourage you to read about the new funding to help accelerate health programs for women and children - http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/

Oh, wow ~ WHAT a positive and specific vision! Yours is the most specific plan of action I have read yet among the VOF applicants. And such a positive and achievable goal. You should be so proud of yourself for creating this plan, and for having the strength and the tools to carry it out! I'm sad to read of the difficulties women face in your community. I know how difficult it is to bump up against the large-scale violation of women's rights. You sound like a strong and positive role model and force for change for women in your community. I am so looking forward to seeing how your plans progress. Best of luck to you, sister!

This burning fire of working towards formation of a Sex Workers Choir and capacity building so far i feel no amount of water can extinguish.I am currently a Music Student at a local affiliate college of London College of Music,sitting for my Grade Two Exams in the next one month.The skills i have garnered from my able Music Instructor have to be put into good use.What a better way to do so than to also to replicate the same with the voiceless in my community?

Thanks Rebecca for your encouraging words,after reading this i feel so motivated to run the course immediately,but a journey of a thousand miles starts with one step,i am working on the basics currently like sharing my vision with the Sex Workers whom i interact with in my day to day undertakings especially during integrated bar outreaches which i conduct four times a month.

William62,words fail me as i read your post,the replication bit of the initiative particularly caught my attention.The web link was so helpful,this new funding targets women and children who are considered as Vulnerable Groups in my community.I am exploring all ways possible to make this dream a reality.

Regards to you great women,Rebecca and William62,keep up the good work to encourage other women worldwide through your inspirational posts and also speaking on behalf of the voiceless!

carsongitau Empowered Woman

I find your vision, and your extremely practical, well-thought out steps for achieving it, to be so impressive. Your Choir of Hope plan sounds as if it will be very empowering for those involved. Very much good luck with setting it up and with all your work. Peace, Antonia

Thanks Antonia for the inspirational post,i am sure working to ensure that this vision turns out SMART-Specific,Measurable,Achievable,Realistic and Time-bound.Step by step i shall be there someday!

carsongitau Empowered Woman