Wednesday, 30 Jan 2013

Internews trainer recognized for human rights work

Patrick Rukwaro

The gay and lesbian community recently recognized individuals and groups who have contributed to advancing their human and civil rights.  
Internews in Kenya Broadcast trainer Patrick Rukwaro and three alumni were feted at a gala night organized by the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC). 

Rukwaro tells of working with the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community and how it has changed his life.
”I was homophobic until my boss assigned me to train members of the community to tell their own stories.

 As I came face to face with 14 trainees from the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya, I wondered what awaited me even as I tried to focus on the task at hand – training the group on news gathering, news writing and online journalism.
But my first training at Internews in Kenya turned out to be one of the most interesting assignments in my career. The interaction changed my perception about the LGBTI community.

At the end of the training, the participants launched the online news portal As I continued to mentor the trainees on writing stories, they opened up to me and I learnt of the discrimination they are subjected to daily just because of their sexual orientation.  
But what is more important is that Kenyans are slowly waking up to the reality that some of their countrymen are lesbian gay, bi-sexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI. The number of Kenyans who believe the LGBTI should enjoy the same rights as everyone else including the right to access  health services is growing.

Still I did not expect to be nominated for an award during the inaugural Gay and Lesbian Awards of Kenya (KeGALA). I was elated that the work Internews has done to empower the community was being recognized in put the full glare of the media. The fact that the organizers got a license to hold the event from City Hall was another indicator that attitudes are changing and the LGBTI have learnt to engage the media effectively. 

Three other nominees in the media category were Internews alumni. Stella Kasina, a free lance journalist, was nominated for a marvelous series, The Invisible Bridge, which was aired on K24 TV.  Anne Soy who produced Muffled killers, a three-part series that aired on KTN, and Daily Nation journalist Joy Wanja were also recognized. The winner of the award was The Star reporter Monica Mwangi who has written many stories championing the rights of the community.

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