April 18, 2024

We had our first meeting with BAKAD this week to discuss the specifics of the project implementation, agreeing that several stages of the project should ideally be completed before I reach the field (Diyarbakir – Amed) in June.

Our project has two prongs. The first one concerns building physical and human capacity to transform BAKAD into a community center that can provide the necessary material and informational resources to the discriminated individuals in the region. The second prong aims to create a cohort of trained volunteers in the Southeastern cities, who can keep a hotline for individuals to reach out to. We agree that these activities will have to be implemented simultaneously to maximize the impact during the grant period.

Chronologically, our first task is to produce a list of community organizations, trade associations, and NGOs whose help we will enlist in creating the networks of medical and legal professionals who will agree to help LGBTQ+ individuals, and ideally provide a discounted rate.

Our second task will be to advertise the training program and the hotline on May 15th, which will be done through social media in conjunction with various other LGBTQ+ organizations in the region. Based on the interest we get in the first week, BAKAD volunteers will go to the field in person with workers of another local organization (Keskesor Amed LGBTİ+ Organization). We will continue advertising the hotline and the community center throughout June, and start producing the informational material.

Once we have a sense of the demand from the region, we will have a better idea on how to structure the training program. Here, we will be enlisting the professional help of a psychotherapist or social worker, who will create the training modules for us. We were offered help by another LGBTQ+ organization (SPoD in Istanbul), in providing this training. We will assess our options depending on the demand we get throughout May. We would like the first round of trainees to arrive in Diyarkakir-Amed and start the training on June 15th, so we can have at least two cohorts of trainees throughout the summer.

Here, we are also facing our first challenge. Most individuals in this region go to larger cities as seasonal workers in tourism or agriculture. Individuals staying in the Southeast often have multiple jobs including full time positions, jobs in the gig economy, or sex work, meaning they cannot volunteer too much of their time. We are considering the best ways to create an inclusive and supportive environment at the community center, so that those interested can afford to participate in the program. We already planned on providing the teaching materials to the trainees free of charge. We are now considering whether we can also offer bus or train tickets to those who will come from the neighboring cities, provide travel costs to the center, and provide food during the training sessions at BAKAD. We will see whether it is possible to lower the staffing costs and increase this portion of our expenses, by enlisting the help of SPoD, among other organizations.

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