Actively working in the human rights arena as human rights defenders can leave one both drained and psychologically impaired. HRDs are known to often times experience trauma through their up-close and personal interactions with depressing situations. For KTMG staff, this unfortunate scenario has been part and parcel of carrying the mantle as a dedicated media house for Uganda’s LGBTI and other key population’s communities.
To close off the international mental awareness month, KTMG whisked off its staff for a much overdue retreat to a scudded island. This is the first time since KTMG’s inception that the team has taken time off to reinvigorate and renew their spirits; for an entire weekend, the team didn't have access to the rest of the world with the aim of de-stressing and releasing all the pent up anxiety and pressure that comes with constantly covering the rather triggering events and incidences in the community.
The team used the time to bond and reflect on the past years and where they hope to take the initiative in the future.
"I remember in 2017 when we couldn't afford the substantial salary that we offer our staff, I'm so glad that all of you stuck it out and delivered as expected," KTMG Executive Director Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera said in appreciation of her staff.
She further shared the challenges management has endured in their effort to fundraise for the media entity. “Fundraising for KTMG has been difficult especially after the AHA was annulled, somehow the world believes LBTIQ people in Uganda are safe from prosecution forgetting that homophobia and the penal code continue to prevail to prosecute LGBTIQ people. Transgender people and gender non-conforming people continue to face media persecution with the media and malicious police defining them as impersonators. It is very common to see transgender people on national TV being paraded or harassed by homophobic Ugandans. Some service providers like boda bodas have been known to deny them services even though they are willing to pay more than what the usual heterosexual person would pay. This is why we still need funds for advocacy as a media group,” Ms Nabagesera shared as a remi9nder of why KTMG’s work is important to the movement as a whole.
"When the Sexual Offences Bill was signed I lost all hope, my heart sunk, I've been depressed ever since, I don't know what to do anymore, we fought so hard to annul the AHA and for it to come back like this is just devastating,” DK, an employee of KTMG shared her fears during the retreat.
"I think we should be strong and not lose hope because all LGBTIQ HRDs are working hard to ensure that this bill isn't assented to. Right now Ugandans especially in urban areas are more educated about LGBTIQ people and I don't think they'd even take part in any massive homophobic retaliation, we have to be careful who we present ourselves to though. We never know who to trust,” Phyllis Wanjiru encouraged the team.
Ruth Muganzi, the Programs Director of KTMG said this time away was necessary for the team because of the burn out that had crept in and the utmost need to cater to the mental wellbeing of people that are constantly at the frontline. She shared that this is something the organization hopes to carry forward annually to keep the team both energized and dedicated. This retreat was supported by Urgent Action Fund.
As KTMG, we pledge to continue sensitizing and advocating for the human rights of LGBTIQ people in Uganda. We will keep on doing our part in the struggle to have our basic human rights respected.