By: Aixa M. Rivera
How do associations and organizations from Puerto Rico impact and help the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,Transgender, Transexual community and the ones around them?
A roundtable discussion set out to answer this on Wednesday, March 5 at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez. Three ssociations from around the island gathered to discuss their strategies for helping the LGBTT community as well as their vision, programs and services. All the organizations targeted different parts of the LGBTT community through unique ways.
The talk started with the group Carib, which is a program from the Migrant Health Center, a nonprofit organization with over seven health centers around the island. MHC has had a variety of programs like Huella, Ama and Nuevo Horizonte. Carib, was a program that started in October 8, 2012 with a vision to promote health and a better quality of life for young men that have sex with men. Their services are HIV testing, education in practicing safe sex, distribution of educationaland preventative material, therapy and advisement on drug abuse and dependency. This program has a different way to target young men, which is using a drag queen speaker to spread a message of support and prevention thorough this medium. Carib has had a presence in the community participating in various activities on the UPRM, TV and radio presentations and different festivals celebrated by the LGBTT community in San Juan, Cabo Rojo and other towns.
Kayra Lee Naranjo, Miss Carib 2013, said “ I started doing this to give others the help I didn’t had and I’m glad I can by being a drag queen and doing something different.” She got in touch with Carib by participating in drag queen shows and immediately started working with them towards doing a different approach.
As the talk went on the audience had a better perspective of the help needed in the LGBTT community when Wally Soto, from the program Aché, brought official statistics from the Health Department of Puerto Rico. The statistics were from HIV/AIDS cases by Health Region. He started his conference with these numbers so the audience could get a better perspective of what was out there.
Aché is an organization with 28 years of experience in the LGBTT community. They work with young men having sex with men and their vision is for Puerto Rico to achieve that health is recognized as a human right. They offer food and housing services, workshops, and a fair service.
The third and final organization to present was Matria, which is a feminist organization with 10 years of experience. Matria offers 4 programs to the community. Libera is the program that helps the development of micro companies, Atenea helps with employment and education, Aurum helps with the credit score and Gaia helps with housing. They help women and everyone who consider themselves a woman. They demand human rights and equality through marches and exposure in the community.