In their Annual Report, Universal Love Ministries-Uganda (ULM) wrote about the twenty local organizations that they partner with throughout Uganda. I was impressed with their far-reaching network and so I asked ULM Director, Turinawe Samson, to tell me more about the importance of collaboration with local organizations. This is his response:
At Universal Love Ministries-Uganda (ULM), we partner with other organizations from all over the world. We also find it important and useful to partner with local organizations in Uganda. Together, we work for inclusion and acceptance of LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex) people in Uganda.
Uganda is a heterogeneous nation, with many different tribes that speak different languages and have different cultural practices. For a project or a program to be a success, it requires the full participation of people in the community in project activities. To make this happen ULM must collaborate with local organizations that operate in the particular area of interests. Then, we train them on the ULM approach and empower them to go out into their local communities, using their local language to present the information in a way that is culturally relevant in that area.
ULM uses drama groups and skits to talk about human rights.
Collaboration with local partners is a way to scale-up the ULM approach. ULM’s role is to elicit participation of key local stakeholders, train them in the ULM method of dialogue, and then get them to share responsibility for encouraging inclusion and acceptance of LGBTI people in the community. This approach of enlisting local partners enables a long-lasting solution that is sustained locally.
Local people are the best ones to solve local problems once they have become empowered.
People support solutions when they are a part of the process to seek these answers.
Effective social change requires our unique experiences to matter in making the change.
There is power in collaboration
Local collaboration is vital to build networks and allies across different communities and issue-specific lines. Social justice work is most effective when there are coalitions and alliances that push beyond denominational boundaries, identifying common cause at the intersection of our unique struggles and then building on shared values. In this way we create a stronger and more united movement for social justice in Uganda.
This is how it will work: Male voices are needed in the fight for reproductive justice, heterosexuals must stand up for their LGBTI neighbors, and all people of faith need to firmly articulate a theology of love and justice. ULM, in collaboration with other local organizations, can make this happen in Uganda.
Samson meeting with Church of Uganda Bishop Christopher Senyonjo.
There is power in collaboration. What an individual is able to accomplish is small compared with what a group of individuals can do when they act in concert. Social justice is every individual’s responsility, and collaboration can enable everyone to lend a hand in doing social justice work, directly or indirectly.
Collaborations will help ULM to work in solidarity with other organizations. Collaboration brings many different people to support the cause, once they understand it. Solidarity then makes us strong.