How to reopen LGBTI safe house in Cameroon

The LGBTI advocacy group Camfaids has secured funds to reopen its safe house in Cameroon even though Camfaids has not yet found a suitable new site for it.

From the African Human Rights Media Network

A moment of reflection in the Camfaids shelter. (Photo by Jacks Oke used with permission of the photo subject.)
A moment of reflection in the Camfaids shelter that closed Nov. 6. (Photo by Jacks Oke used with permission of the photo subject.)

The previous shelter / safe house was closed Nov. 6 at a time when Camfaids had run out of funds for the project and was in arrears in rental payments, Camfaids president Michel Engama said.

The landlord insisted on moving new tenants into the site, so Camfaids vacated it even though Camfaids had received unofficial assurances that the funding would be resumed as well as a private donation to cover expenses in the short term, Engama said.

The last seven short-term residents of the shelter were relocated temporarily to rooms at Camfaids headquarters.

The primary supporter of the shelter was and is the City of Geneva, Switzerland, with oversight provided by LGBTIQ-friendly attorney Saskia Ditisheim of Lawyers Without Borders Switzerland.

For the long term, Camfaids is seeking additional funding that would allow construction of a permanent, secure shelter to replace shorter-term leases.

Starting in early 2017, the shelter served LGBTI victims of family rejection and violence based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. It has sheltered about 100 people, including some living with HIV-AIDS who received comprehensive medical care. Through the site, Camfaids provided psycho-social counseling, food, medical care, support with social reintegration and encouragement/empowerment.

Reopening the shelter is important, Engama said, because “it helps poor LGBTQI people rebuild dignified, responsible, independent lives.”

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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