Positive Vibes

Change You Can See

The work of the KP REACH programme’s citizen journalist initiative, ‘Key Correspondents’ (KCs), demonstrates Positive Vibes’ (PV) Looking In, Looking Out (LILO) methodology and capacity development approaches in terms of catalysing change at the personal level and the transformative process that follows, in this case, through storytelling—of the KC’s own stories and those of others—as well as providing useful skills and tools to be successful KCs.

Personalisation The PV curricula, LILO Connect, is a participatory, personalised approach which supports and encourages non-LGBT+ persons and potential champions to tap into their value systems and enhance their knowledge and understanding of ‘key populations’ (KPs), in this case, specifically the LGBT+ and sex worker communities. The aim of delivering this at the outset of the KC initiative was in this case to support more sensitised reporting on and storytelling about LGBT+ and sex worker issues, to raise awareness of the lived realities of gender minorities.

Through workshops focused on writing for LGBT+ and sex worker communities, photography and videography, managing writers block, taking a story idea to completion, and interview skills, coupled with intensive support from facilitators, the KC Coordinator, social media intern and editor, the KCs now have an increased awareness and language sensitivity, enabling them to confidently seek out stories to both document the lived realities of LGBT+ and sex worker communities, but also, hopefully, incite change in the communities and countries they are writing from:

“The information on writing, video and pitching was valuable.”

“Reconnecting with the other KCs was helpful regarding motivation and sharing experiences.”

“The content was on-point.”

The combination of LILO Connect and technical assistance resulted in a shift from 1 story in March 2017, to 18 in September 2017. As at 13 November 2017, there were 16 stories and 13 videos ready to be loaded onto the website, www.keycorrespondents.org (which is being rolled into the Positive Vibes website post-2018). Dialogue One big factor that supported this change was the PV team’s Linking and Learning Exchanges (LLEs), which acted as a dialogue process to further the transformation process in the KCs. Each KC attended a day-and-a-half event, which were co-hosted in four of the programme countries, with KCs and REActors from the other four countries being invited. KCs linked with their REActor counterparts, who have access to on-the-ground stories of human rights violations, as well as in-country partners within civil society at different levels who can assist KCs in identifying and accessing potential stories. Voice and action At this point in programme implementation, the main beneficiaries of this change process are largely the 19 KCs who are collecting and documenting stories, as well as their interviewees, who would likely experience some catharsis in sharing their stories.

The major change that is being strived for, i.e. behaviour change in the broader community and at multiple levels to disrupt the discriminatory behaviours and attitudes that have been established as the ‘norm’, has been harder to see due to some setbacks experienced in implementation. Despite the success of the efforts described above to generate passion and motivation amongst the pool of KCs and get them producing content after a slow start to the programme, the technical side, in terms of pushing stories on various platforms (www.keycorrespondents.org, the SAfAIDS site and KPREACH.net as well as local media) has proven more difficult than expected. The handover of the KC website to PV was delayed, and the site itself was built on an old hosting platform, requiring a new website to be built. While this is largely completed, it has impacted on progress towards achieving the ultimate change of a unified, KP-led voice (though this part is well underway) and disseminating messaging co-created with KPs to shift attitudes and beliefs to reduce stigma and discrimination as a barrier to HIV prevention, testing and treatment services.

Looking ahead 2018 is the final year of the KP REACH programme’s implementation, and, with the platform launched at the end of 2017, 2018 is seeing change happening at the level of voice and action, to enact social transformation in terms of reducing stigma and discrimination to better enable KP communities to access HIV prevention, treatment and testing services.