An inspiring story about a lesbian activist

Kathmandu/Pahichan – Apeksha Dahal( 24) , a young and open lesbian has been working for more than seven years in the LGBTI movement. Dahal is associated with Blue Diamond Society. Initially rejected by family, restricted in school, forced to get married to a man, Apeksha started her journey as an activist from Makwanpur to Kathmandu.

She has been involved in BDS since 2011, while since 2013 in a project of UNICEF. She is providing social and financial skill development training to Children Affected by HIV (CABA) and LGBTI adolescents since five years.

She is a peer educator at National Federation of Women living with HIV and AIDS (NFWLHA), and this training program is being rolled out through it.

The packaged training is named as Rupantaran. She has provided training to more than 90 CABA children and also LGBTI adolescents in Kathmandu. She has been involved with NFWLHA through YKAP, which means young key affected population. Through this program, many CABA children have expressed their success stories where many of them have been empowered strongly.

Apeksha shares story of a boy called Karan who is a CABA child. He was not confident to speak but after he took this training he has been empowered and able to speak in front of people. Now, he has worked as an artist and earning after his school. Many other CABA children and LGBTI adolescents have orally shared their stories of improvement and empowerment after taking this training.

The training package includes recognizing who we are and identifying people whom we trust.

Then teachings on all sorts of changes that appear in adolescence period. This also includes the nutrition and diet chart. Trainees are taught about HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections. It also teaches on civil participation and speaking in front of people.

Child rights sensitization is included.  Earning livelihood sessions are provided. Trainees are taught about LGBTI and on Sex, Gender and Sexuality. They are taught about discrimination and stigmatization, also including the ways to deal with them when they have to face them. They are also taught about sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Good communication skills, stress management and time management are other skills trained to the trainees. Moreover, they are taught the idea of starting their own business, where they identify the business they are able to do, manage budget for it, and how risk factors work in this. The training also has dance, song and game session to teach various moral lessons. Games and role play are vitally used for easy learning.

Apeksha being a lesbian woman has closely worked with children living with HIV. She has had three months of internship in FHI 360 and at Los Angeles LGBT Centre, USA for six weeks. Now accepted by her family, “I want to end this stereotypical thinking about lesbian women and people living with HIV.”, she says.