There is still a long way to go in terms of health and sexuality in the society where I live in. Peer educators of OUT Well-Being, including myself, play a vital role in giving good information and building an empowered LGBT community in South Africa. The person who really inspires me, is Delene van Dijck, our consultant. She trains OUT Well-Being staff and develops the information that we give to the LGBT community. In addition, she gives advice about the best ways of actually distributing this information, to make it most effective. Sometimes, we have sessions in which we give feedback and tell her about matters we come across as peer educators, and the best ways to deal with LGBT people and specific situations. Delene also developed the ‘Binaries & Boxes’ model for sensitisation training for service providers, such as the police and health workers, to make them more aware of health and other issues in the LGBT community. The model, for instance, explains the differences between sex, gender, sexual orientation, and sexual practices.
What I really appreciate about Delene is that, when you feel down or frustrated, she reminds you of the importance of your work. She convinces you not to allow people to discourage you. When I started to work with OUT Well-Being, this first thing she told us during the training for peer educators, was that we are here to save people’s lives. This made an enormous impression on me. Before that point, I never really understood this. But since then, when I wake up in the morning, I know what is expected of me and what I am supposed to do.
Time is the most precious thing that anyone can offer you
Another lesson that I have learnt from her is that time is the most precious thing that anyone can offer you. When the time of a person or a group of people is given to you, it is your responsibility ‘to turn on the lights’ – you can make people see their destiny in life. I also aspire to inspire other people to find their own significant moments, so that, after hard times, the light goes on for them and they discover what they are meant to do. I feel that you have to be intrinsically inspired to continue doing whatever you do.
I will do this work for as long as I live, as long as I breathe. Because this keeps me going. It is the reason why I am here. I am an ambitious and unique person, which makes me different. Since there are many people who are unique in their own right, they are also similar to me. And I believe that those similarities make us different, and our differences make us similar.