Grant Proposal Peer Reviewers, May 2019
A total of 69 applications from 12 southern African countries were received under the call for peer reviewers, showcasing expertise in an array of fields from activism, business, research and the arts. We selected 15 peer reviewers with the strongest applications to help us make decisions about where the money would go under this round of grant applications.
Click the thumbnails below to watch the respective interviews of four of the 15 peer reviewers, about their experience of the two-day peer reviewer workshop.
Below are the biographies of all 15 peer reviewers:
Aldovanda Djive‘s activist career began in 2013 when she joined LAMBDA in Mozambique as a peer educator. She is a passionate advocate for the human rights of lesbian and bisexual women and has helped to design and implement internal policies that include lesbian and bisexual women in LAMBDA programs. Aldovanda has received training on Civic Leadership at the Young African Leader’s Initiative (YALI) in Maputo.
Aunício da Silva Emília Avalinho is an entrepreneur in the media area and is the founder and editor of IKWELI Journal based in the city of Nampula, northern Mozambique. For a little more than seven years, Aunício worked as a communications manager at several Mozambican non-governmental organizations and collaborated with various magazines, newspapers and national and foreign news agencies. He has been an activist and human rights advocate for more than ten years. Aunício holds a degree in International Law from the Catholic University of Mozambique in Nampula.
Ava Thancanamootoo is a humanitarian and archives professional combining 12 years of expertise in related fields with demonstrable interest and experience in human rights work. She is currently based in Mauritius where she works as the Archives officer and is a part-time lecturer at the Mahatma Gandhi Institute. Previously, Ava worked as the Safe Space Program Specialist at Church World Service in Kenya and as a legal intern at Lawyers for Human Rights in Pretoria. She holds a Master of Laws in International Protection of Human Rights and Personal Freedom.
Carou Labonne has been an LGBTQ activist for 10 years in Mauritius. As a volunteer, she has helped with organizing the country’s gay pride and is a member of its first LGBT organization, Collectif Arc en Ciel. In 2014, Carou was among the founders of the Young Queer Alliance and was the president for its first year of operation. When she joined Collectif Arc en Ciel she worked as a peer educator, involved in HIV & STI prevention programmes mainly with the men who have sex with men and transgender community. Carou is now a Field Officer, working closely with the LGBT community, making activities to empower the community.
Celine Eises-Watson is a 36-year-old transgender woman born in Okahandja, Namibia. She is an LGBTIQ+ Activist specializing in mental wellness programming, and the founder of the !Norasa //An !Khais (Place of Safety) project that focuses on providing assistance to gender diverse people that are displaced and need a place of shelter. Celine is currently serving on the board of trustees of Wings To Transcend Namibia holding the portfolio of Board Secretary. She is currently working to complete a Diploma in Social Sciences and Counselling at the International Foundation for the Advancement of Reflective Learning and Teaching (ARLT Foundation).
Fungai Machirori is a researcher and media and communications practitioner whose work, thus far, has focused largely on gender and feminism. She has experience in setting up and running non-profit organisations in Zimbabwe and offers invaluable insights around grantmaking and financing activities and operations.
Jerry Lohloka is the monitoring and evaluation officer at the People’s Matrix Association under its Linkages Project. He spearheads all the Looking In Looking Out (LILO) initiatives in the ten districts of Lesotho where he directly engages the LGBTIQ+ community. Jerry has planned and implemented several health workshops for men who have sex with men, as well as initiatives to sensitize health care practitioners on LGBTI+ issues in health care centres across Lesotho.
Levy Ngosa has over 5 years of experience in designing, coordinating and implementing social justice and minority rights interventions and strategies for marginalized and excluded groups, including advocating for sexual reproductive health rights services and human rights for key populations like sex workers. Levy has extensive experience in project management, advocacy and campaigning, and sub-grant making with civil society organizations and individual human rights defenders as well as relevant social justice and public health development programs in Zambia.
Lee Mpanza has an insatiable thirst for advancing progressive change in South Africa’s society. She has worked at various financial institutions in different capacities and has volunteered as an advocate for LGBTI rights at the Forum for the Empowerment of Women, and worked as a community events organizer at The Equality Project. Lee is one of the founding members of Parents Friends and Families of South African Queers which employs a grassroots, family and community-based approach to addressing the challenges faced by the LGBTI communities. Lee has a degree in Civic Leadership from the University of South Africa.
Nthabiseng Mokoena is a South African black queer intersex feminist and activist who has worked extensively in southern and east Africa on SOGIESC issues and human rights, sexual reproductive health rights and access to healthcare. Nthabiseng is the regional advocacy officer at the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA), having joined ARASA in January 2015 as a regional training and capacity strengthening officer. Before joining ARASA, they were the programmes and staff director at Transgender and Intersex Africa (TIA), an NPO advocating for the human rights of black transgender and intersex people in rural areas and townships of South Africa.
Pearl Magashula is a human rights lawyer who is in the process of completing her Master of Laws in Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Africa with the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria. She is a feminist and an active member of the LGBTI and women’s rights movements in Botswana. She has worked on a range of advocacy campaigns and movement building initiatives at both the local and international level and is an expert in sexual and reproductive rights as well as the international human rights framework. Pearl is a co-founder of the independent collective, Black Queer DocX, and sits on the board of LEGABIBO.
Pierre Buckley is a programme manager at The Global Interfaith Network for people of all SSOGIE (GIN) Secretariat, and a licensed Lay Minister in the Anglican Church of South Africa. Witnessing the effects of HIV and mental health in his immediate family has profoundly influenced Pierre’s desire to work amongst marginalized people. He is an alumni of the Nelson Mandela Washington Fellowship and is currently completing his BA in Communications and Political Sciences.
Randrianarisoa Riana Raymonde is a Madagascar based independent journalist with 19 years of experiences, who focuses her work on investigative and cross-border journalism since 2009. She is a founding member and the current General Secretary of the Madagascar network of investigative journalists. She is an international consultant and researcher; she collaborates with several international organizations as Transparency International, Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime. She has a Master’s degree in Communication and Media.
Sammie Macjessie is a Malawian based LGTBIQ human rights activist, founder and executive director of Ivy Foundation an LBIQ organisation based in Malawi as well as a member of the first Africa intersex forum. Sammie holds a bachelor’s degree in Tourism and Hospitality.
Tshenolo Jennifer Madigele is an ordained minister of the Lutheran Church in Botswana. She successfully studied for Masters of Arts in Theology looking at Christianity and the gay community. She is the first female theologian in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Botswana where she works as a lecturer. She is currently serving as a link between the church and the LGBTIQ community. She has done some studies on theology and human sexuality and published some works looking at heteronormativity and its impact on homosexuality in Botswana.
Grant Proposal Peer Reviewers, May 2018
We issued a call for applications for peer reviewers of our grant applications for this round, and are overwhelmed by the breadth and quality of applications we received. For the first time ever, we received applications from each of the thirteen southern African countries we work in, and total applications tallied at an impressive 226.
Some of our peer reviewers were invited to reflect on video, about their participation in this peer review process, share some highlights about the applications they reviewed and to give tips to future grant applicants.
David Ikpo, and Liberty Matthyse.
We selected the following peer reviewers:
Caine Youngman Caine is a human rights activist with 13 years of experience at local, regional and international level. His strengths are in project management, proposal writing, project implementation, public education and research, with particular focus on development, human rights, health and advocacy. He is the advocacy manager at LEGABIBO and holds a Master’s degree in project management.
David Ikpo David was born in Nigeria and now lives in South Africa, where he is studying towards a Doctor of philosophy degree. David is the communications officer at the Sexual Orientation Gender Identity and Expression Unit, at the University of Pretoria’s Centre for Human Rights. His book, Fimí sílẹ̀ Forever, was shortlisted for the LAMBDA award for best gay fiction 2018. David holds a Master of Laws in human rights and democratisation in Africa.
Diana Katu Diana has over 8 years of experience in working and mobilising within the LGBTI movement. She has represented and presented on issues affecting lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LBT) women’s especially on national and regional platforms, including experience and knowledge in developing, implementing and managing various campaigns. She resides in Zimbabwe and holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication science.
Genevieve Louw Genevieve is based in Johannesburg, South Africa, and works as the Programmes Manager at GALA (Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action) and also as the co-director of SCOPE. Genevieve has extensive experience in the process of writing proposals and managing projects and is passionate about the value and effect of education, particularly within queer civil society. Genevieve engages in youth development projects regularly.
Khitana GN Khitana is the Copperbelt Regional Coordinator for TransBantu Association Zambia, on a voluntary basis. As a young trans activist working at the grassroots of the community, Khitana is able to evaluate the plausibility and feasibility of a proposal given the context in which it will be executed. Previously, Khitana held the position of community mobilization officer for Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia, under the USAID Open Doors Project that targets transgender people, men who have sex with men (MSM) and sex workers.
Gugu Mandla Based in Johannesburg South Africa, Gugu is the Media and Documentation Officer at Iranti-Org, and has worked within the human rights framework for the past 5 years. Through the Zwakala Project, Gugu has met and engaged with community based organisations and identified a dearth of knowledge in proposal writing and understanding of the funding world. Gugu holds qualifications in photojournalism and in fashion design.
Jeremiah Lehloka Jeremiah is based in Lesotho and is a member of the Peoples Matrix Association where he has been involved in the planning and implementation of a number of its projects. These include health workshops with men who have sex with men (MSM), and sensitization of health care practitioners on LGBTI+ issues.
Khumbo Soko Khumbo is a Malawian lawyer and holder of a Master of Laws in international economic law. He has worked as a litigation lawyer with Centre for Development of People (CEDEP), Malawi’s leading non-governmental organisation advocating for the rights of sexual minorities in collaboration with the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) and UNDP. Khumbo was the president of the Malawi Law Society (the national bar association), and now works at Soko and Co. as its managing law consultant.
Liberty Matthyse Liberty is the head of Gender DynamiX, an organization focusing on advancing the human rights of trans and gender diverse people in southern Africa. She has extensive experience in working with funders and developing funding proposals. This experience and insight will ensure that applicants adhere to procedural and substantive requirements, and have content in their applications that speaks to community needs. Liberty holds a Master’s degree in law majoring in transgender human rights in marriage law, women and gender equality, and international human rights law.
Mary Audrey Chard Mary is a long standing member of GALZ, and the current chairperson of RAWO. She has many years of experience in working and being part of organisations that depend on donor funding in order to exist, making her an ideal peer reviewer. Mary is Zimbabwean and lives in Harare.
Matseliso Ntsoelikane Based in Lesotho, Matseliso has substantial experience in contracts and grants management, including grant contract management, grant appraisal and monitoring and evaluation. In her career she has assessed grant proposals, awarded grant contracts and disbursed funds, making her input in this process especially valuable. Matseliso will be putting the grant proposals we have received through their paces.
Motsau Motsau Motsau is based in South Africa and the co-founder of the End Rape Initiative. Motsau has been involved in the kind of activism that is located in the lived reality of our people enabling more concrete action to be taken towards the upholding of the human rights of queer people in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Kenya, and Lesotho. Motsau is passionate about interrogating the very complex intersections that continue to perpetuate stigma and discrimination of the most marginalised.
Riana Raymonde Randrianarisoa Based in Madagascar, Riana worked for a project led by a global initiative against transnational organised crime in collaboration with Interpol and the Institute of Security Studies. Riana has over 18 years of work experience as a reporter, and holds a Masters degree in economic journalism, and another in communications and media.
Grant Proposal Peer Reviewers, October 2017
We asked our some of peer reviewers for their reflection on the peer reviewer process, and the state of lesbian and trans* organizing in our region. Here’s what they had to say . . . [click on any thumbnail below to play a video clip]
We looked to the expertise of self-identifying lesbian women and transgender people as well as other LGBTI activists and allies to help make decisions about grant allocations for this special call for grant applications to combat discrimination against lesbian women and trans* persons.
From the 54 applications received from ten countries, we selected the following peer reviewers:
Aubrey Chacha Based in Harare, Aubrey is a projects member at Transsmart Zimbabwe and an advocate for trans health and legal rights in Zimbabwe. Aubrey spearheaded the Ethics Project department as a projects manager of ENACTUS Africa University, and was part of the regional YKP Forum organised by SADC. Aubrey holds a Honours degree in Computer Information Systems.
Ava Thancanamootoo Ava is based in Mauritius where she works as the archives officer at the Mahatma Gandhi Institute. Previously, Ava worked as the safe space program specialist at the World Church Service, and as a legal intern at Lawyers for Human Rights in Pretoria. Ava is the founding member and project manager of Their Rights Foundation, and holds a Master of Laws in International Protection of Human Rights and Personal Freedom.
Caine Youngman Caine is a human rights activist from Botswana, with over 11 years of advocacy and training work experience at local, regional and international level. Currently, Caine works as the Advocacy and Awareness Raising Manager at LEGABIBO, and previously worked at the Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS. Caine is studying towards a Master of Science degree in Project Management.
Ishmael Makhuludzo Ishmael is the founder and executive director of Gender Links Youth Network. Based in Mzuzu, Malawi, Ishmael was a peer reviewer at the Other Foundation’s first peer review process in 2014 and has worked on many projects mainly around advocating for the human rights of LGBTI people. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities.
Jholerina Timbo Jholerina is the founder and executive director of Wings to Transcend Namibia, a trans focused organization, as well a current board member of Out Right Namibia. Based in Windhoek, Jholerina previously worked for the Rainbow Project, and has a background in sexual reproductive health rights. She is also a YALI alumni, where she underwent Civic Leadership training.
Kumkani Siwisa Based in Johannesburg, Kumkani is a LGBTQ tech and communications activist. They previously held the communications position at Pan Africa ILGA, Gender DynamiX, and has consulted for Sonke Gender Justice, Aids and Rights Alliance of Southern Africa and ASTRAEA. They hold a degree in Communications and Marketing and lead the Communications Advocacy Project.
Luckmore Jalisi Luckmore has over 11 years of experience in youth programming, social movements, activism, LGBTQ rights and fundraising for non-profits. He is a human rights and governance activist currently working for ActionAid as it Youth Programme Advisor for SADC, as well as it global focal person for LGBTQ rights. Luckmore holds a Master’s of Science in International Development.
Onkokame Mosweu Onkokame is an activist from Botswana, with extensive experience in LGBTI programming and organizing. While he is strongly affiliated with LEGABIBO having worked at the organization for two years, his professional network extends to several LGBTI and other marginalised communities outside Botswana. Presently, Onkokame is the advocacy offcer at Men for Health and Gender Justice.
Ricki Kgositau Residing in Cape Town, Ricki is a well-known independent activist from Botswana, and the current executive director of Gender DynamiX. Ricki sits on the board of Global Advocacy for Trans Equality, as well as AIDS Accountability International, and is an experienced resource mobiliser. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations.
Sibusiso Malunga Based in Lusaka, Sibusiso is the programs manager at the Lotus Identity – an organization she co-founded – and the programs officer at the Coalition of African Lesbians. Previously, Sibusiso was the monitoring and evaluation specialist at Friends of Rainka, where she honed strong project management skills. Sibusiso holds a degree in Library and Information Science.
Nandi Msezane Based in Benoni, Sybil has over 15 years of project management and human rights work experience, and serves on the boards of the International Federation for Women Lawyers, and the Dinaledi Mentorship Programme. Sybil is presently employed as the Event Project Manager at Black Tower Consulting Group, and was the programme coordinator for the Collective of African Sexuality Related Rights Advocates based at the Coalition of African Lesbians.
Thobeka Bengu Thobeka is a performance art and human rights activist, performer, choreographer and the artistic director of the Rainbow Theatre Company, a project of the Gay and Lesbian Network. Thobeka is based in Pietermaritzburg and is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Drama and Performance Studies.
Grant Proposal Peer Reviewers, November 2015
We asked our peer reviewers what they thought about the Foundation’s grant making process and what their experience of being a peer reviewer has been like. Here’s what they had to say . . . [click on any thumbnail below to play a video clip]
Liesl is the founder and former executive director of Gender Dynamix, which was the first organization in Africa to focus its work exclusively on transgender people. Based in Cape Town, South Africa, Liesl initiated a number of projects that contributed to the growth of a transgender movement in South Africa and the region. Her research on transgender issues is widely published in academic journals.
For this special call for grant applications to combat discrimination against lesbian and transgender people, we looked to the expertise of self-identifying lesbian women and transgender people to help make decisions about grant allocations.
From the 21 applications received from seven countries, we selected the following peer reviewers:
Farisai Gamariel Farisai is the head of the languages department at the Catholic University of Mozambique. She is also a board member of Mozambique’s LGBTI association, LAMBDA, based in Beira. Farisai has for a long time been active in organizing theatre competitions and has been involved in conducting research on the incidence of HIV amongst men who have sex with men.
Trymore Gendi Trymore is a young transwoman based in Harare, Zimbabwe. She is the Harare coordinator of the newly formed trans unit at Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ), advocating for transgender and intersex people. She began working at GALZ as a volunteer in 2013, and has been actively involved in the organization’s administrative and programming work.
Nyx McLean Based in Cape Town, Nyx is a doctoral student working on queer identity and Pride in post-apartheid South Africa. A board member of Gender Dynamix, the first transgender organization to be established in Africa, Nyx was also a member of the working group for Johannesburg Peoples’ Pride. Having previously been the national print and digital communications manager of LoveLife in South Africa, Nyx now teaches multimedia studies at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.
Thuli Mjwara Thuli is the programmes manager at the Pietermaritzburg Gay and Lesbian Network, of which she was a former board member. She is also actively involved in the Pietermaritzburg Gender Forum and in South Africa’s national task team to combat hate crimes against LGBTI people. Thuli is trained in psychology, business administration, and project management and has a depth of experience in working with marginalized people, including juvenile offenders, people with disabilities, and LGBTI groups – most notably through the Khulisa Crime Prevention Initiative.
Lineo Mothopeng Lineo is the community facilitator and LGBTI specialist at Sesotho Media and Development in Lesotho. The first born in a family of four females, two of whom identify as trans men and are known lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) activists in Lesotho, Lineo joined an LGBTI activist grouping in 2008 as a peer educator, quickly becoming the organization’s president until its legal registration. Lineo joined its secretariat as its dialogue and advocacy program manager until earlier this year.
Lame Olebile Based in Tonota near Francistown in Botswana, Lame is an Africa advisor to FRIDA, the international young feminist fund. She is active in LGBTI movements in Botswana and the southern Africa region and is experienced in advocacy including litigation, community mobilisation, and media campaigning, as well as in conducting research, facilitating organizational development, and monitoring and evaluation – especially relating to the feminist movement and LGBTI groups.
Grant Proposal Peer Reviewers, August 2015
Final decisions have been made about our August 2015 grant peer reviewers, by a selection panel that included members of the Other Foundation team and an independent panelist, Zwelijongile Gwebityala.
Zweli is a 28-year-old black gay businessman in Johannesburg. He grew up in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa where his own experiences as a young gay man influenced his drive to live out and proud in order to provide other young gays with a template of how life can “get better”. He holds a degree in applied maths from WITS university and prior to opening his own company, he worked in corporate South Africa including McKinsey, where he led corporate initiatives aimed at making work places more LGBTI friendly. He is an avid supporter of the Other Foundation and is actively involved in philanthropic work in the education field.
We received 17 applications from 6 countries. The following peer reviewers were selected:
Majo is a married father of two girls. He is an English teacher at a primary school in Chimoio, Mozambique. He also runs a company that provides translation and interpretation services. In addition, he volunteers in the Youth Parliament of Mozambique and is an online accountability advocate with Youth in Action, a network of young people that is promoting greater accountability for the implementation of the post 2015 development goals. Majo shared his thoughts on the difference this peer review process makes in the selection of grants.
Solum is a human rights activist and a program officer at Malawi’s Centre for the Development of People (CEDEP). His work involves research, education and training, and advocacy to create an enabling environment to end stigma and discrimination, particularly focused on men who have sex with men and LGBT people. He was involved in the production of the publication Queer Malawi, A Collection of LGBT Stories. Solum spoke about his role and the insights gained from participating in the peer review process.
Humphrey is a public health practitioner. He is the Director of the Sexual Rights Centre in Zimbabwe and has been active in a wide range of human rights advocacy efforts for many years. He previously worked as an occupational therapist and a trainer in field epidemiology at the University of Zimbabwe. He is currently doing research on the intersection of religion, culture and human rights for sexual minorities.
Lineo is the community facilitator and LGBTI specialist at Sesotho Media and Development in Lesotho. The first born in a family of four females, two of whom identify as trans men and are known lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex [LGBTI] activists in Lesotho, Lineo joined an LGBTI activist grouping in 2008 as a peer educator, quickly becoming the organization’s president until its legal registration. Lineo joined its secretariat as its dialogue and advocacy program manager until earlier this year. Lineo gave advice to prospective grant applicants, on the key ingredients for a succesful grant application.
James Katlego Chibamba
James is an assistant student counselor at the University of South Africa [UNISA]. He founded and is the current president of Gays and Lesbians of Rustenburg [GLOR] in South Africa’s North West province, which does LGBTI psychosocial support, educational and advocacy work. James was also an intern at the Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action [GALA] library and archives at WITS university in Johannesburg. James took a moment to give insight on what makes a good proposal for a grant.
Thandeka is the founder of Thanda Afrika, a LGBTI human rights activism and arts trust. She identifies as a lesbian woman. As a social entrepreneur in Zimbabwe, she provides arts and cultural spaces for people to exist freely without facing harassment, threats, or violence for not fitting into traditional gender categories. Thandeka shared her reflections on the peer review process and her thoughts for the future.
Liesl Theron is the founder and a former executive director of Gender Dynamix, which was the first organization in Africa to focus its advocacy and outreach work exclusively on transgender people. Based in Cape Town, South Africa, Liesl initiated a number of projects that contributed to the growth of a transgender movement in South Africa and the region. Her research on transgender issues is widely published in academic journals. Liesl shared her thoughts on what makes our grant making so unique.
Born in Uganda, Dolar has worked on international development programs for over 20 years, including at the United Nations, VSO, and Oxfam. Dolar joined Iranti.org in May 2014, supporting the director with organizational and programme development. She is the author of the book, Not Yet Uhuru – lesbian flash erotica. She also works as an independent consultant from Johannesburg.
Based in Kitwe, Zambia, Reuben is an examiner in science and mathematics in the Zambian educational system. Reuben is an active member of the Zambia Progressive Teachers’ Union and a member of the Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants. He is also involved in the LGBTI advocacy group Friends of Rainka and is part of the Zambia SOGIE Advisory and Research Team. Reuben shared his thoughts on the value of having an open call for peer reviewers to review our grant applications.
Dumisani is a Zimbabwean living in South Africa. A former high school teacher in Bulawayo, he is actively involved in religious ministry to LGBTI people in the Catholic church in Johannesburg – mostly those who have moved to Johannesburg from other countries in the region in search of greater social acceptance. He works as a communications and advocacy consultant.
Renald is a project manager at the Synergos Institute’s Johannesburg office, responsible for a multi-stakeholder network established to improve services to children in South Africa. He previously worked at the Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention, the Open Society Foundations, and the Community Dispute Resolution Trust. Renald is a board member of Sophiatown Community Psychosocial Services, an inner city agency in downtown Johannesburg that provides counseling and other support services to refugee and other migrant communities in the city.
Grant Proposal Peer Reviewers in 2014
Twelve peer reviewers were appointed for the Other Foundation’s 2014 round of grant making. The group represented a geographic and demographic spread, as well as a wide range of expertise, which are essential for a good grant proposal review process.
We wish to thank Makhosazana Xaba, for her lead role in the selection of the peer reviewers and the facilitation the peer review process. Makhosazana Xaba is a South African poet, and is also trained as a nurse and has worked as a women’s health specialist in NGOs, as well as writing on gender and health.
The peer reviewers were selected from 32 applications received from 7 eligible countries. They worked individually first, and then in four teams, assessed 98 grant applications that qualified for consideration, in order to recommend to the Other Foundation’s board of trustees which applicants should be given grants. This was done during a workshop in Johannesburg in April 2014. The peer reviewers were Muhshin Hendricks, Florence Khaxas, Ishmael Makhuludzo, Patience Mandishona, Zethu Matebeni, Pilot Mathambo, Nonhlanhla Mkhize, Nolene Morris, Chan Mubanga, Jabu Pereira, Janet Shapiro, and Marinus Uys.
To understand a bit more about some of our peer reviewers, we wanted to tell you a bit more about Chan Mubanga and Muhsin Hendricks.
What it feels like to inhabit a body whose sex is at odds with one’s gender identity, is a psychological pain Chan Mubanga, a trans man in Zambia and one of the Other Foundation’s grant proposal peer reviewers is familiar with.
In a moving self portrait, Chan says he was 10-years-old when he became aware of his attraction to girls but it was only when he begun menstruating that he realised he was not like the other boys, or his two older brothers. At the time, the word transgender was unknown. People were either gay, lesbian or bisexual.
“Night after night I prayed to god to stop the periods, to stop these breasts that had begun to grow where my proud chest used to be. But when these changes carried on, I began asking myself – Who am I? What am I?”
Misunderstood and confused, Chan tried to ignore what was happening to his body and found refuge in sex with other girls. Eventually under pressure from his mother, combined with the predominant Christian norms in the household, he had sex with a boy at age 17, an experience during which he says he cried throughout.
“People who are transgender in Zambia need to feel a sense of belonging and worth.”
Years later, after qualifying as an electrical engineer he struggled to find employment as he is viewed as a woman in a male-dominated culture. Chan says he is “passionate about driving big trucks across borders, discovering far and remote places”, but often encounters resistance from family, partners, and society when he tries to pursue his dreams.
But Chan says he is beginning to see change occurring, partly as a result of the work the group TranGend that he established with a few friends.
“I see TranGend growing over time, offering a safe space for sharing, research and character building. People who are transgender in Zambia need to feel a sense of belonging and worth, we need to know that there are others like us, and there are people who understand and accept us as we are without second thought. Only when this initiative has a solid foundation, can we look to improve our social environment by community organizing and information dissemination and begin to influence policies. Our major challenges for now are ignorance about gender identity, colonial laws that criminalize homosexuality, gender inequality and traditionalist customs that forbid sex/sexuality education,” he says.
As a devout Muslim “innately attracted to the same sex”, Imam Muhsin Hendricks, who is a grant proposal peer reviewer for the Other Foundation, has had to struggle with the cultural and religious pressure that forces people to conform to social gender roles.
This pressure resulted in him marrying a woman he would never be able to fully satisfy, and with whom he would not be able to satisfy his own personal and emotional needs. Hendricks says that during the time he was was doing Islamic studies in Pakistan, to numb the pain of being married to someone he knew he could not physically and emotionally bond with, he immersed himself in his work.
However, after six years of marriage he decided to divorce, and his coming out led to him facing rejection by his family and community, resulting in him losing his job as a religious teacher and assistant Imam. With no support, he lived in a small room next to horse stables on a friend’s farm.
This painful experience led him on a journey of reconciling his faith with his sexuality. A few years later, he founded the Inner Circle, an organisation providing support to Muslims who feel marginalised and victimised because of their sexuality and gender.
The Inner Circle, based in Cape Town, offers social and spiritual programmes to enable people to reconcile their Islamic faith with their sexuality, to help people reach a point of self actualisation.