As part of our COVID-19 Trans Resilience Campaign, APTN will be highlighting some of our COVID-19 Community Support Fund partners who have stepped up to provide vital support to the community during the pandemic. Read below about our third organisation and how they are navigating the challenges of the COVID pandemic to continue the important work they do.
Name of Organisation:
Unity For Change (U4C)
Where we work:
Who we support:
Trans Men, Lesbian, Bisexual women
What We Do.
We do advocacy for Lesbian, Bisexual, and Trans Men to claim their human rights. Since its establishment, Unity for Change has been providing education on LBT issues, human rights, sexual health and rights, mental health, economic empowerment and welfare. This includes support for health, legal, accommodation and counselling for LBT people as needed.
Why We Do It
In Nepalese society there is lots of misinformation about trans people. Due to the patriarchal society trans people are not accepted by family and society. Even trans people have little knowledge and understanding of their own identity. The situation for trans people is very bad. Many do not have access to education or decent work, and the unemployment rate is high. That’s why Unity For Change has been established. It is the only trans male focused organisation in Nepal. U4C is increasing awareness in society and within the LGBTIQ community about trans men, Lesbian and Bisexual women’s issues.
The three most pressing issues facing Trans people during COVID-19 in our community
- Financial crises- lost job, unemployment and no job opportunities
- No access to trans specific health services, increased mental health issues like depression, anxiety, phobia, stress, panic and suicidal thoughts
- Increased online and physical gender-based violence.
What we did with our grant from the Community Support Fund
- Relief distribution (Food, sanitation, clinical (Harmon), financial aid) for 54 LBT people
- Conducted an online survey on health and socio-economic status among LBT people during COVID-19 to understand their needs
- Conducted online mental health support session with a qualified therapist and established a peer psycho-social support group called Guff Gaff.
- Provided Hormone Packages to 10 trans men
Photo Description: Trans Masculine activists preparing PPE, food, and hormone relief packages for distribution
We knew that many would be affected during lockdown, so we developed mental well-being programmes for LBT people, and various virtual events including Group Psychosocial Counselling where we were able to support 64 LBT people to cope with their psychosocial health. Following the counselling, participants created a mental health support chat group where they could speak with their peers about the mental stress and issues they face and support each on how to cope with their mental health problems.
What were some of our challenges?
One challenge is the major and urgent need from the beneficiaries. During the project implementation we couldn’t reach more LBT people due to the limited funds. This was difficult as the Nepal Government was also not including trans people in their social protection and relief programmes due to national ID issues. Very few trans and LGBI people have citizenship documentation. Access to hormones was very difficult – for many people they were more afraid of not having access to hormone therapy than COVID. This caused a lot of mental health stress. The suicide rate is increasing during this lockdown time. During the lockdown, 13 LGBTI people committed suicide among them 2 were lesbians and 2 were transgender man.
What we are hopeful for…
Due to the COVID 19 fund and activities, our organization has been recognized within the community and by other stakeholders including hospitals, political parties, youth groups and NGOs. We were able to hold 4 board meetings to direct the response and employed online surveys to understand the need, identify most at risk and respond. This is our first project, so we learnt lot of things and were able to support the community’s needs during the implementation. We hope to get further funds to continue our work.
Photo Description: U4C staff and volunteers in the street to deliver relief packages
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