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02_07

02_07

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LGB RPCV NewsLetter - February 2007 
1
 NewsLetter 
February 2007In This Issue
Donations for 2006
 
A Lesbian in Kyrgyzstan
 
Peace Corps and NGOs
 
Micronesia - Country Direc-tor Hero
 
PCV LGBT Group in Ecuador 
 
2006 Financial Report
Readings on LGBT Issues inthe Islamic World
number of volunteers in any countryPC serves) have done volunteer andsecondary project work with NashMir. RPCV Jeffrey Janis, Ukraine, proposed this organization.The specific Nash Mir project wecontributed to was one that providedHIV/AIDS education and preventioninformation to the LGBT people inthe Ukraine they serve. You can learnmore about Nash Mir and how to personally contribute to their projects by visiting their web site http://www.gay.org.uaSteering Committee member, AlanSilverman will be working with our  board to establish additional guide-lines for choosing recipients for anydonations made in the future. Our rather loose guidelines to this pointhave been that donations be HIV/AIDS care, education, or preventionrelated, and that there be at least aloose connection with Peace Corps.Alan has suggested that guidelinesinclude characteristics such assustainability, effectiveness and be broadened to include a wider rangeof LGBT related issues. These will be published before we solicit ideas for future contributions.
Preview
T
he year begins with a report on two organizations we’ve contributed to.
 Maureen Pritchard tells her coming out stories with Russian and Kyrgyzfriends.
The unholy alliance between Peace Corps and NGOs in Tom LaBelle’s article.
Wayne Hill pays tribute to his Country Director in Micronesia.
Anew PCV LGBT group in Ecuador.
Dan Rael’s annual Finances and Membershipreport.
Books of interest to PCVs in the Islamic world.
LGB RPCV’s Steering Committee(our board) decided early in Decem- ber to split $1200 we had availablefor a donation between two deserving projects: Development in Gardeningand Nash Mir. Discussion and recom-mendations from all eleven membersof the committee were all over themap. Opinions were pretty evenlydivided between the merits of the two projects.$600 went to Development in Gar-dening, a recently formed non-profitorganization put together by SteveBollinger and Sarah Koch, RPCVs -Senegal, to develop vegetable gardensserving patients and out-patients of HIV/AIDS hospitals in Senegal. Stevehad worked on the initial project asa volunteer and it was so successfulthat after returning home, he wantedto continue. Good nutrition is key totreatment for HIV/AIDS in Africa if antiretroviral drugs and other thera- pies are to be successful.Steve is back in Senegal now,working on a second garden withlocal gardeners and the Peace Corpsvolunteer now assigned to the project.He recently traveled to South Africaand Mozambique where there was in-terest in establishing similar projectsin these two countries.You can learn more about Devel-opment in Gardening and how youcan personally contribute by visitingDIG’s web site
www.developmentin- gardening.org 
and also reading thearticle Steve Bollinger wrote in our  November 2006 newsletter 
http:// www.lgbrpcv.org/articles/11_06_dig.htm
.Our second donation of $600 wentto Nash Mir, an LGBT Human Rights NGO in Ukraine. They are a success-ful organization that takes on a fullrange of programs related to LGBTand other Human Rights issues inthis former Soviet block country.Many Peace Corps Volunteers inUkraine (Ukraine now has the largest
Donations for 2006
- by Mike Learned, Editor 
 
LGB RPCV NewsLetter - February 2007 
2
Coming Out In Kyrgyzstan
- Maureen Pritchard, RPCV 
Continued on page 4
Preview
Misha:
The first few weeks insite I was so lonely. Naryn, Kyrgyz-stan seemed to be a cold place withoppressive mountains. Classes hadyet to resume from the New Year’sholiday and so I had no flock of eager English learners to occupy my time. Iknew that a “good girl” stayed hometo clean, cook, and study, but I wasunable to bear the inside of the apart-ment any longer and decided to goout into the sunlight. I joined a groupof young children playing soccer.While playing I noticed a very tall blonde Russian man laughing at myinability to kick. He had blue eyesand a gorgeous smile that hinted atwomanizing ways. “Playing with thekids eh”, he said in Russian. “Whydon’t you come up to the radio andhang out.” His name was Misha. Iwas so surprised to learn that therewas a radio station in my backyard.Up three flights of stairs we went untilwe reached an iron-grated door. Insidewas a fully functional radio transmit-ter whose power source was situatedin a still functional bath-tub! Therewere three other young men there, alluniversity students, who had skippedclass for this more interesting radio project. After introductions and someconversation my new found friend in-vited me onto the balcony. “I want totell you something” he said. Outside,under blue skies, he lit a cigaretteand eyed me. I was fully expecting aconfession of love. Instead he said,“Please, don’t tell anybody this. Idon’t know why I am telling you but Itrust you somehow. I am a Satanist.” Iwas most certainly intrigued and after a long discussion about his beliefs Isaid, “And I should tell you some-thing. I’m a lesbian.” I had never usedthat word in reference to myself butmy vocabulary was so limited, whatelse could I say? He grinned in ac-ceptance and leaned over the balcony,“I understand you being a lesbian because I myself can’t live withoutwomen. I always wanted to meet agay man,” he said. “I would ask himhow he can live without them. Butyou should be careful whom you tellabout yourself.”
Ulya:
One night I had gone to thetelephone center to call the girl I’d left behind in the USA. We hadn’t argued but there had been a tension in theconversation and I knew somethingwasn’t right. As I walked back homethinking, I ran into the radio stationmanager, and a DJ. The manager’sgirlfriend was going off to Americaon some kind of scholarship andthey invited me to drink some winein celebration. My mood must have been noticeable because they askingin a teasing way. “Who offended you?Who made you sad? Who is he?” Onthe way out, tipsy from the wine, Itold one of them, Ulya, whom I wasreally fond of, “He’s not a boy. He’sa girl.” “Oh-ho!” he replied with thehonest delight of knowing a secret, “Iknew you had somebody!” After thatday he always included “And how isgoing your relationship” into all theother formalities a Kyrgyz personmust ask in greeting.
Chinya:
News flows slowly acrossthe world and it wasn’t until Marchthen that I discovered my now ex- partner had managed to accrue a debtin my name more than three times myreadjustment allowance. Unwilling toend my service and come home, yetunable to work out the tension anddistance that had developed betweenmy girlfriend and me, I had decidedto end the relationship. That was in November and all my fellow volun-teers had come to my aid to preventme from ending my service early.Misha and I had marked our mutualsorrow in vodka. Ulya however con-tended that I was just being “capri-cious” and in the end we would get back together, after all in the Muslimmindset, you date a woman with theintention of marriage and I oughtn’ttoy with her. Now it was March andInternational Women’s Day had just passed. I was standing outside theuniversity throwing rocks at a wall.“Why are you throwing rocks at other  people’s property?” a familiar voicesaid gently. It was a fifth year studentwhom I hung around a lot with butwhom I couldn’t say that I was closeto at the time. I began aiming at theground instead of the wall. “I amthrowing rocks at the wall becausemy ex-girlfriend got me into a big problem and I don’t know what to doabout it.” Chinya hadn’t known aboutmy sexual orientation until that exactmoment and he didn’t say a word inresponse, but I saw in his eyes that heunderstood.After that day, I stopped censor-ing myself and Chinya got used tothis new side of me, giving me thenickname “Boy-Girl”. On one of our long walks to his girlfriend’s win-dow and back, I began some tangentabout wanting to be a man and he juststarted laughing. “What’s so funny?”I asked. “I imagined your erection!”he said to me, raising his pinky finger as illustration. I was never allowedto sleep next to his girlfriend and Ialways took this scenario as a silentacknowledgement that he took mysexuality seriously. Once he said tome “I never met a lesbian before you, but if all lesbians are like you, then Irespect all lesbians.”
 
LGB RPCV NewsLetter - February 2007 
3
Peace Corps and NGOs: Time for a Review?
- Thomas J. La Belle, RPCV Columbia
Preview
In an article on HIV/AIDS inSwaziland, The Killing Disease(http://www.lgbrpcv.org/articles/11_ 06_killing_disease.htm), publishedin the last (November, 2006) issueof this Newsletter, author VincentD’Agostino laments the lack of co-ordination among agencies involvedin the delivery of HIV/AIDS relatedservices, along with the denial amongthose infected, and those around them,of a lack of appropriate intervention.The introduction by the Editor notesthat Swaziland is recognized as hav-ing the highest rate of HIV infectionin the world while D’Agostino statesthat nearly half of the population is in-fected, but only about 20% are awareof their status.My reaction to the article was notsurprise at either of the major pointsmade by the author, or the sufferingand death which follows such prob-lems, especially in Africa. But I foundthe author to be especially poignant inhis comments regarding the deliveryof treatments. He states: “…there aretoo many hands, too many players,too many fighters, too many NGO’s,too many messages, too many mixedmessages, too many everything.There is no cohesion, no communica-tion. There is constantly a breakdownof all these things wherever yougo…It really is a land of confusionout there.”I have also noted this lack of cohesion in the delivery of humanservices associated with governments“out sourcing” them to NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) and private for profit agencies in develop-ing countries. I first came across thiseffort to disengage governments insuch programs in Latin America inthe early 1990s. This was the pe-riod when the so-called “neo-cons,”through the IMF and the World Bank,among others, like USAID, wereencouraging, if not insisting, that inorder to be looked upon favorably for loans and related funding, dependentgovernments had to privatize or inother ways “outsource” their humanservice delivery resources (e.g. healthand agricultural extension, literacyand consciousness raising, commu-nity development, technical voca-tional education) to non governmentalagencies. I recall that, along withthe confusion noted by D’Agostino,there was considerable competitionfor survival among the NGOs. Eachhad an office, a staff, and each wasdependent for funding from some na-tional or international agency, or wasdependent on the demand from clientsto pay directly for services received.Such competition was fueling a lack of cooperation and communicationamong agencies, as each NGO, for example, needed to convince thosewho were funding their programs tocontinue support. An NGO’s survivalmeant jobs for its staff as well as thedelivery of services to a known popu-lation. To share information aboutits programs, about possible fundingsources, and about its proposals for funding with other NGOs workingwith similar missions, was lookedupon negatively as such action was perceived as sharing internal secretswhich ultimately would make theagency less competitive.On a recent trip to Jamaica this pastsummer, where I was working withUSAID on public-private partnershipsto support primary school education,I again came across the competitivenature of the NGO landscape. InJamaica, however, I noted another characteristic of such competition, thealignment of NGOs along politicaland religious lines, such that the com- petition was not just among individualagencies but among coalitions of agencies. Such alignments or groupsof agencies were tied to political andreligions groups, which effectively blocked much real participation withothers across group lines. Yet, it ap- peared that little productive activitycould go on, at least in encouraging public-private partnerships, in theabsence of linking up with such coali-tions.The Bush administration added the“faith based” initiative to the confu-sion that D’Agostino points to, byencouraging religiously affiliated non-government agencies to become moreactive in human service delivery.While, in principle, many would like-ly agree that governmental agenciesneed to encourage the involvement of the public through financial assistanceand volunteerism, the test for judging progress on a project appears now to be tied to how many “partnerships”can be created, thereby effectively re-ducing the attention given to the goalsassociated with the program itself.The results have heightened the com- petition among individual agenciesto a new level as such competition istied, not just to agency survival, but tothe socialization of the general publicto particular political and religious belief systems.When I first studied NGOs inLatin America in the 1970s, manywere small, local, community based,and took support from regional andnational agencies. Today however, NGOs are often large, multinationalinstitutions which operate more ascorporations, but whose focus is lesson making money than delivering ser-vices. Nevertheless, they are clearly
 
Continued on page 5

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