Joseph Kingham Ochill, a Ghanaian sexual health and human rights activist is seeking assistance to raise funds to enable him attend the 37th International Rights Training Program in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue in Canada. The training that will be held from June 5 to June 24th 016 requires Ochill to raise a total of CAD $5,845 to cover both travel and participation costs.
To help raise these funds, Ochil has penned a missive explaining his work and how participation in the training will impact his efforts as an activist. In the missive, he also explained the different projects he has been involved in and hopes the world will rally together to help him attend this much needed guidance program.
Below is the communiqué as written by Ochill
My name is Joseph Kingham Ochill, a Ghanaian Sexual Health and Human Rights Advocate, and currently working with the Centre for Popular Education and Human Rights Ghana, CEPEHRG. I applied to participate in the 37th International Human Rights Training Program (IHRTP) to be held at Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Québec, Canada, from June 5 – June 24, 2016.
My application was accepted (find attached the acceptance letter) but unfortunately I have to find financial assistance to cover my travel cost and a participation fee of CAD $5,845. I want to use this platform to seek financial support from institutions on this platform or institutions that individuals on this platform know can help sponsor me to participate in this important training.
I strongly believe that participating in this year’s International Human Rights Training Program will encourage me to achieve my goal of becoming an active agent of change, by advocating for the rights of minority groups. I find myself continually reminded of the social inequities that occur in my country and the world as a whole and, as such, I have committed myself to working towards equity in access and opportunity.
Through my Psychology courses at the University of Ghana, I learned more about the interaction of people in social groups, as well as the inner conflicts that everyone of us faces, and ways of dealing with them.
Over the years that I worked with the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), Africa office, a non-governmental organization working to ensure the practical realization of human rights across the countries of the commonwealth, I have contributed to outreach programs aimed at informing communities about their basic Human Rights. I was involved in a number of fact-finding missions surrounding human rights abuses and ensuring that victims get justice and offenders brought to book.
Since 2009, I accepted to work on part time basis for the Unitarian Universalist United Nations office and the Manya Krobo Queen Mothers Association as a Program Monitor for their collaborative project, Every Child is Our Child Program, which seeks to provide care and support for vulnerable children, especially those orphaned by HIV and AIDS in the Eastern part of Ghana. I later came to think of this decision as a revolutionary step that turned my attention to what I now am determined to make a profession.
Working for vulnerable populations has become my passion because I belong to the MSM community which is highly marginalized in Ghana, and my current involvement with the activities of MSM’s and Lesbians in Ghana has endorse my understanding from my Bachelor Degree that there are many groups of people with their individual needs, issues and hardships.
Since 2014 I have been working with CEPEHRG, an LGBT NGO, as a Project Officer and an Executive Assistant. In this capacity, I have been supervising community MSM Peer Educators who on daily basis talk to their peers on the need for behavioral change, encourage them to use condoms and lubricants consistently and correctly, urge them to know their HIV status and refer them for treatment where necessary. I also help with project design and implementation.
I have coordinated a Global Lube Access Mobilization (GLAM) project, tittled “Condom-Compatible Lubricant Advocacy Project for the LGBT Population in Ghana”, which aims to add lubricants to the conversation about safe sex between intimate partners. As part of the project, a brief survey to ascertain the availability and accessibility of lubricants and condoms to Key Populations in Ghana was conducted and the findings suggest that there is an overall low provision of lubricants in comparison to condoms.
With the recent security threats and attacks on the LGBT groups and individuals in Ghana, CEPEHRG proposed and implemented the project “Personal, Organizational and Digital Security For LGBTIQ Defenders in Ghana”. I was part of the project team that executed this all-important project for LGBT community members and defenders in Ghana. The purpose of the project was to equip LGBT Human Rights Defenders with additional knowledge and tools to deal with their everyday security and protection concerns.
Aiming to upgrade my skills and knowledge to be able to contribute to the LGBT community effectively, I applied for a Leadership Development Fellowship Program by The Initiative for Equal Rights, Nigeria. My application was accepted, was trained and was subsequently awarded a grant to also train Lesbians, Bisexual women and Trans women in Accra and the Volta Region of Ghana, and also come up with a database that will document these individuals for future interventions.
In my capacity as a fellow of TIERS (The Initiative for Equal Rights, Nigeria), I coordinated the first organized Human Rights training session in Ghana focusing solely on female sexual minorities. During this time, the participants of the training became the central participants in the foundation of the “Courageous Sisters”, a WhatsApp group formed after the training of the Lesbians, Bisexual women and Trans women in Ghana. This “Courageous Sisters” group has provided the only platform that minority women in Ghana have to communicate issues concerning them, share information and experiences regarding discrimination and human rights abuses, offer encouragement, provide security information regarding attacks, and share their visions for the minority community in Ghana. Many of the female sexual minorities who use these social media groups have appealed for assistance to form an organization to address their needs and I am working towards achieving that.
As an individual interested in giving back to society, l have noticed a variety of practical programs available that will keep me active in the local communities after my return from the International Human Right Training Program to be held from June 5 – June 24, 2016 at Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Québec, Canada.
I will therefore be grateful if I get sponsorship to join other participants in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Québec, Canada by 5 June 2016 to start the journey that will build my skills and knowledge to become an effective agent of change in the areas I work that I feel passionate about.
Joseph Kingham Ochill
Sexual Health and Human Rights Advocate