Survivors Organisation is a sex worker led and driven membership organization founded in 1999 in Busia County, in Western Kenya. Registered in 2000 by the Ministry for Gender and Social Services, Survivors’ believes in the fundamental human rights and dignity of sex workers. We seek to empower and support sex workers in making informed choices about their sexuality. We are at the forefront of advocating for the rights of sex workers.
At Survivors’ we create an environment where members feel respected and dignified; they challenge and learn from each other, as well as provide a caring atmosphere of encouragement and safety, using a non-judgmental approach restore hope to sex workers, who are reactively, periodically or formerly involved in the sex industry.
Founded as ‘Muungano’ (a network of sex workers) and later as “Survivors” connoting our members’ resilience, since its establishment, we have expanded our geographical reach and extended services to Men who have Sex with Men (MSMs). Additionally, we have effectively responded to poor information and health services, abuse of sex workers’ rights, social stigma and the challenge the historical association of sex work with dysfunction, drug addiction, organized crime, and powerlessness. In defiance of the social stigma associated with sex work and HIV and Aids, we changed our name from ‘Muungano’ to ‘Survivors’ Organisation.
At Survivors, we envision a world where all sex workers recognize and realize their health and human rights; and confidently undertake their work in an environment of respect and safety.
We support and empower sex workers to make informed choices regarding their sexuality through capacity building, advocacy, legal aid, networking and dialogue with stakeholders.
Our main strategic objectives are;
- To increase our membership by covering all the areas in Busia County
- To advocate for the Human rights of the sex workers in Busia County
- To improve the health and wellness of sex workers
- Improve sex workers’ livelihoods through economic empowerment
- To strengthen the organization
- Peer Education Programme: This is our flagship program at Survivors. We focus on enrollment and mobilization of peer educators, community outreach and sensitization on safe sex including, condom demonstration and distribution, HIV and AIDS Counseling and Testing as well as strategic skills building.
- The Emergency Support Scheme (ESS): The Emergency Support Scheme (ESS) is an intervention that responds to the need for a health insurance policy tailored to the needs and financial capabilities of our members. It covers health issues as well as provides benevolence funds for bereaved members. The scheme’s objectives are;
- To mobilize members to contribute funds to support peers with specific emergency needs.
- To develop mechanisms for the sustainability of the scheme and
- To maintain STD/HIV and AIDS prevention, control, care, and support activities.
- Advocacy Rights Programme: This program aims to:
- Increase levels of awareness and build strong coalitions supporting advocacy for sex workers rights
- Reduce social stigma, discrimination and abuse of sex workers’ rights by health care providers, law enforcement agencies and the local community.
- To sensitize and provide legal assistance to sex workers by rendering regular legal consultation, legal education and representation in court.
- Lobby for review and strengthening of existing health policies and laws that discriminate against sex workers and/or criminalize sex work.
- Economic Empowerment and Livelihoods Programme: This program seeks to raise the standards of living, and improve the quality of life of sex workers in Busia and its environs through income generating activities. We link members to micro-finance institutions for soft loans and provide entrepreneurship training on business management to supplement sex work during the low season and also as an exit strategy during old age when one cannot do sex work anymore.
- Health and Wellness Programme: Under this program Survivor has established a drop-in centre where sex workers can access friendly health services without stigma and discrimination.
The DIC acts as a safe space for the sex workers where they can access health education, condoms and relax as they wait to go to their hot spots for work.
Survivors Organisation has prioritized coalition building and high visibility as key strategies for institutional and programme strengthening. Among the partners that have supported this initiative include the universities of Nairobi and Manitoba; the Open Society Institute of East Africa (OSIEA), APHIA+, APHIA II Western Kenya, the AMREF Maanisha Project and the Liverpool VCT Care and Treatment.