East Africa Gender and Human Rights
GENDER & HUMAN RIGHTS
PROGRAM DATES: MAY 11 – JUNE 22
- Work with LGBT rights groups in Nairobi to help plan interactive workshops and facilitate discussions
- Engage with local women’s groups in Kibera – East Africa’s most populous slum – and learn about their efforts to provide crisis counseling and other services to victims of rape and those facing domestic violence
- Leap over the source of the Nile from one of the most spectacular bungee jumping sites in the world
PROGRAM FEE: 2,650
EAST AFRICA… THE WAY WE SEE IT
Kenya often evokes mental images of Masai Mara warriors, exotic wildlife in national parks and acacia trees on the savannah. These images still ring true today, but there is so much more to Kenya than going on a safari.
Uganda and Rwanda are so often associated with their bloody histories: the dictatorship of Idi Amin in Uganda and the genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda. But conflict is just one layer of an incredibly complex history. Both countries have lush green forest valleys, red-brown dirt roads and aqua blue waters of rivers and lakes. Kigali, especially, is a hip metropolis booming from a successful telecommunications industry.
In this unprecedented trip, we peel back yet another layer, exploring an issue that evokes passionate emotions and opinions. We will work at gaining an in-depth perspective into the very real challenges facing sexual minorities and putting a face to issues of sexual and gender identity in East Africa. By working carefully alongside activists and human rights defenders in Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda, we will learn of their successes and challenges, arming us with knowledge and an appreciation that will allow us to raise awareness and spark further change in our own communities.
Independent Travel Time is your opportunity to go out there and explore on your own terms!
- Climb Mount Kilimanjaro.
- Visit Zanzibar Island’s Stone Town and relax on the beaches of the Indian Ocean.
- See lions, elephants, rhinos and other big game animals on safari at one of East Africa’s many national parks.
WITH OG YOU LIVE LIKE THE LOCALS.
Traveling as much as we do on the East Africa program, there will be a number of different styles of accommodation. Whether it’s at a youth hostel in Nairobi or under the stars in Lake Naivasha, you can expect to be cooking together and learning to make chapatti with the team. In addition to guesthouses and camping, we will be staying with host families in Maragoli, Kenya and Kimironko, Rwanda, which will allow us to delve into local culture and integrate into the communities we visit.
*This itinerary is based on our previous experience with the region. Programs change every year based on the needs of our partners. This should give you a sense of what our program may look like.
Just click the headers to read more!
After getting picked up at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, the group will have an in-country orientation in Nairobi. Participants will acclimatize by trying local cuisine, picking up some basic Swahili (the local language), and acquainting themselves with the city. Welcome to the fast-paced rush of life that is metropolitan Africa!
The team will then head to Lake Naivasha for a few days of camping beneath the star-filled night sky as we fall asleep to the grunts of nearby hippos. We will spend a day trekking through Hells Gate National Park as we spot giraffes and zebras and take in the breathtaking cliffs and rock formations. This will take us out of central Nairobi for a little break before we get our hands dirty over the next two weeks.
From there, we will head back to Nairobi where we will commence our valuable experiences with LGBT advocacy groups. Here we will gain a very real understanding of the current situation, including breakthroughs and challenges in the fight for LGBT rights in Kenya. We will also have the opportunity to assist in projects that are working towards achieving equality for sexual minorities. We will also team up with a Kenyan LGBT newspaper to work on journalistic assignments relating to LGBT rights in Nairobi.
We will continue our work in Nairobi by working alongside various women’s groups in the Kibera and Mathare slums, some of the largest on the continent. We will gain an understanding of the unique gender roles present in Kenyan society and women’s struggles for equal representation in all areas of life. We will also work alongside an amazing artist co-op in Kibera to run painting workshops for children centered around the theme of gender equality.
From Nairobi we will hop an overnight bus to Kisumu, a bustling urban center on the coast on Lake Victoria. We will look at the role of sexual minorities and gender equality issues from a political perspective and work alongside Blue Cross in supporting awareness projects. We will also spend a day lakeside, eating the best fresh-caught tilapia on earth and sailing on Lake Victoria.
From Kisumu we will hop a bus across the border into Jinja, Uganda where we will spend a day coasting down Class 5 rapids and bungee jumping into the Nile River.
Rwanda’s history is heavy and after this first leg of the trip, participants will have a lot to reflect on. We’ll take two days of personal time to do so, during which you can visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center and other memorials in surrounding villages at your own pace. On the third day, we’ll meet with officials at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to ask questions and learn more about the process of justice and reconciliation. We will also team up with a local LGBT rights organization to gain a better understanding of LGBT issues in Rwanda, and work with them in their current initiatives.
Participants will then head off on their own for a week of Independent Travel Time (ITT), a staple of all OG trips. You can travel independently if you desire but everyone is urged to travel in pairs or small groups. During this time, participants are not under the auspices of the organized program and are entirely responsible for themselves. Participants are given the emergency contact number of trip organizers during ITT for any advice or safety concerns. ITT is the ideal time for participants to learn more about their specific interest, whether it be volunteering, traveling, or just relaxing. Participants may choose to visit Zanzibar or Dar Es Salaam on the coast of Tanzania, climb the epic Mount Kilimanjaro or see wildlife while traveling through the Maasai Mara lands. This will be an opportunity for participants to use the knowledge and skills acquired over the past month to navigate East Africa on their own or in small groups.
The group will reconvene for a trip debrief known as the ‘Disorientation’ prior to flying home. Following ITT, the team will meet up in Watamu, a Kenyan coastal paradise on the Indian Ocean. We will re-live memories of the trip, summarize our experiences, discuss how to stay connected and collaborate on projects in the future before tearful goodbyes at the airport and our flights home.
MEET YOUR TRIP LEADERS
Get ready to spend six weeks with some of the raddest people on earth…we’re not even exaggerating! Just click on their name to read more about them.
Josh first came across OG in 2010 when he signed up as a participant on the first trip to East Africa. After completely and utterly falling in love with the region and its people, he went back as a leader in 2011 and is now leading the Gender & Human Rights program. This summer Josh is looking most forward to bringing issues of gender and sexuality to the forefront of a backpacking experience and to work alongside activists and human rights defenders who are working to achieve the same level of acceptance that we are so lucky to have in Canada. Although Josh is constantly in a state of wanderlust, he also spends time cycling the streets of Toronto, promoting urban agriculture and designing urban spaces and graphic design projects with LOOP: Design for Social Good
, the company he co-founded in 2012.
When she watched her tent get picked up by a windstorm and fly away across the Namibian desert, Rachel knew her life had reached a new high. It all started in 2010 when she followed her passion for Rwandan politics and found herself backpacking across East Africa on OG’s first-ever trip to the region. Soon after, she joined OG as a trip leader and spent the following summer leading two epic trips through Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda. She then headed south and began a five-month journey backpacking through South Africa, Lesotho, Madagascar, Swaziland, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Malawi. A graduate of Carleton University’s journalism program, Rachel works as a freelance writer and is determined to write a book exposing the often-harsh realities and risks of voluntourism.
After getting bit with the travel bug on a trip to Norway at the age of 11 with the organization CISV, Meg has never missed an opportunity to experience new things. Originally from Maine, USA, Meg came to the University of Toronto where she double majored in African Studies and Political Science. She is now working and volunteering in the city, counting the days until this summer’s adventure. Meg was lucky enough to be a part of the first OG East Africa Politics program in 2010 and loved every second of it. She is pumped to have the opportunity to put her passions and experiences to work leading the East Africa: Gender & Human Rights and East Africa: Politics and Perceptions trips this summer!