What is IGNITE!?
IGNITE! is a peer-led 2 year mentorship program that fits in with the mission of YVC to create a strong network of young MSM and young transgender people in Asia and the Pacific.
Young MSM and young transgender people are more vulnerable to HIV with a concentrated epidemic within the older cohorts and we need a strong cadre of young leaders advocating for our rights and issues. Hence the overall goal of IGNITE! is to generate the next set of young MSM and young transgender leaders to take up the health and rights movement in the future.
What is included in the IGNITE! program?
IGNITE! Has 10 mentees coming from Bhutan, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. The mentees represent all sub-regions in Asia and Pacific. The first set of mentees was selected through an open call for applications.
Each mentee has a mentor in his or her own respective location in order to facilitate effective communication and support for the mentee.
The two-year mentorship program has four workshops. Two each year. The first two workshops of the program has already been conducted in Bangkok in June and November 2015. These workshops cover vital subjects ranging from basic human rights, program development, advocacy, and sustainable development goals to presentation skills, public speaking, partnership building and etc.
The mentees are expected mobilize other young people and integrate YVC advocacy priorities in to their organizations and work.
What is unique about IGNITE?
Unlike other mentorship programs which build the capacity of general key populations, the aim of IGNITE! is to create the next set of young leaders representing all sub regions in Asia and Pacific region. Many young people who attend such training discontinue their involvement as a result of lack of interest or lack of follow up. IGNITE! engages these mentees over a period of two years with 4 workshops and prioritize them in representing YVC in different regional and international meetings and conferences to provide them vital exposure and space to network. They are made an integral part of YVC activities providing them opportunity to work closely with the secretariat and the core-working group to facilitate an ownership process.
What is the special feature in IGNITE! ?
IGNITE! does not stop by providing training but also goes the extra mile to provide an opportunity to the mentees to apply what they have learnt through implementing two small scale projects in their own countries.
During the first workshops the mentees have developed work plans for small scale projects which focus on addressing self-stigma among young MSM and young transgender people, advocating for young MSM and young transgender friendly HIV Health services and addressing general stigma and discrimination which are YVC advocacy priorities.
The first set of projects will be implemented in the first half of 2016 and with the lessons learnt the second set of projects will be implemented in the later half of 2016.
The implementation of the projects expects to expose the mentees to the challenges of implementing projects including handling finances, building partnerships and navigating power dynamics, which are necessary skills for an upcoming leader.
What is the relationship between mentors and mentees?
IGNITE! has a separate mentor for each mentee. The mentors are well-experienced personnel from within and out side the community. Having a mentor in the same city helps our mentees enormously since they can personally meet the mentors to get support for their activities.
The roll of the mentor is to facilitate the learning process through helping them to develop work plans for the projects and guiding them in the implementation process. More importantly the mentors are well-connected people in the development sector and this allows our mentees to get more exposure and space to network through their mentors.
The mentors have been helpful in providing our mentees such opportunities by making them observers of different meeting in the country level where they can meet important people and be part of the on going activities.
As we are young, we also expect the relationship between the mentor and mentee to be nurturing. We face a number of issues ranging from gender and sexuality, HIV status to coming out, work place issues and family violence and etc and we look up to our mentors to help the mentees in such situation if any occur.
Meet our mentees
Pema , MSM, 22, Bhutan
Pema currently works as MSM representative for Multi-Country South Asia Global Fund Project in Bhutan. Pema also engages in mobilizing young LGBT community and has already created a small group of young LGBT persons in Bhutan. He also does community awareness through meetings and face book.
Tamani, Transgender, 22, Fiji
Tamani is a young Activist and also part of Fiji’s Youth Parliament. She also works with the Rainbow Pride organization in Fiji. She is currently working on setting up a Rainbow Association at her university to mobilize more young people for LGBT rights.
Daina, Transgender, 20, India
Diana works as a Community Coordinator with GAURAV CBO in Mumbai, India. Her work specifically involves working with young transgender and Hijra population who are in sex work and working in orchestra bars. She has also started a small group of young transgender people called ASHA, which mobilize them to provide services.
Erky, Transgender, 23, Indonesia
Erky is a strong and powerful young transman activist from Indonesia. He currently works as the media officer of GWL-INA and maintains the Brondongmanis.com website and Youtube channel.
Myo, MSM, 21, Myanmar
Myo is an area representative of Myanmar Youth Stars a network of young MSM in Myanmar. He engages in raising awareness among young MSM on HIV/SRHR and mobilizing young people.
Moon, Transgender, 26, Pakistan
Moon works with Naz Male Health Alliance in Pakistan and also with Khawaja Sira society in Pakistan. She is a strong advocate for education for transgender people in Pakistan and was involved in Pehchan transgender literacy project.
Brian, MSM, 23, the Philippines
Brian is one of the youth leaders of Pinoy Plus Association and currently handles the youth management program. He also educates young gay people about their sexual health and rights. He is also the secretary of Pinoy Plus Advocacy Pilipinas, Inc.
Maya, Transgender, 21, Singapore
Maya works with Project X as a youth coordinator, which is an organization that works for the rights of sex workers. She is a strong and a vocal advocate of sex workers’ rights. She also engages in raising awareness among her peers on sexual health, HIV prevention and testing.
Ranaka, MSM, 24, Sri Lanka
Ranak is currently a member of Heart to Heart Lanka organization in Sri Lanka and also an active member of Young Out Here youth group. He is also a member of the youth technical advisory committee of Family planning Association in Sri Lanka.
Qui, MSM, 23, Vietnam
Qui works with CBO Bau Troi Xanh as a co-leader. He also works as a peer educator and works with the young MSM community to encourage them to take HIV tests.
Written by Niluka – Project Officer of Youth Voices Count