A pre-workshop session was held an evening before the workshop. In this session, the participants from Multan were introduced to the project objectives. In this introduction, along with the project and its objectives, VISION also introduced itself and its team that was going to conduct the workshop for the next two days.
Day 1 Informed consent
The session started with informed consent through a puppet act, where all the participants were explained the objectives of the workshop and were informed that their conversations will be documented in a report format as well as through a visual medium e.g. still photography and video documentation. The participants were asked that if they had any objection to any medium of documentation, they can communicate that and their conversation or pictures will not be included or taken for reporting purposes or their pictures will be taken from angles where they are not recognized. Following this act, the participants willingly gave their consent and the workshop started.
For purposes of remaining disciplined and organized, the participants were asked to set the basic norms for the two days workshop. Following are some of the norms that the participants volunteered:
- Be punctual throughout the workshop
- Do not interrupt ongoing conversations between facilitator/s and a participant
- Raise your hand before asking questions
- No whispering
- Respect each other’s opinion
- Do not criticize each other
- Wait for your turn
- Do not laugh at each other
- Encourage each other
Corresponding to the activity designed for purposes of introduction as described in the workshop design under activity 1 (Annex 1), following are some of the responses:
- Her name is Saima. She is from Multan. She is the team coordinator. The weakness I see in her is that she is willing to trust everyone and the good thing about her is that she is very invested in her work.
- This is Guru Akbar. He is from Lahore. The good thing about him is that he is very straight forward and that also sometimes become his weakness
- Asad is from Multan. He has the ability to make friends easily however, his weakness is that he wastes time where something can be done in five minutes, he takes an hour
- Chanda is from Multan. She is very caring. She tries to help out all those who are around her. Her weakness is that she is very emotional
- Sarim has masters in commerce. Good thing about him is that he is very helping and his weakness is that he is straight forward
- His name is Shahid. Shahid has masters’ degree in psychology. The good thing about him is that he takes ownership of his identity and the weakness is that he trusts everyone and that sometimes becomes a challenge for him
- His name is Tayyab. The good thing about him is that whatever he has in his heart he says it out loud and the weakness is that he talks about his private matters especially regarding domestic issues with his friends
- His name is Saif ur Rehman. The good thing about him is that even if I do not say anything he would understand but the weakness is that he gets excited easily
- His name is Farhad. He has finished his Intermediate in Sciences and has worked with different NGOs for 6 to 7 years. The good thing about him is that he is a pleasant person and the weakness is that he is very outspoken
- He is Adnan. He does Arts. The good thing about him is that he is a pleasant person and the weakness is that he gets angry and emotional easily
- His name is Asad and he is from Multan. He works with VISION. Good thing about him is that he is pleasant and whenever anybody goes to his Dera (living space of Transgenders) he meets her/him nicely and the weakness is that he has vanity (Nakhra in Urdu)
- Her name is Usman (Payal). She has finished her secondary school. The good thing about her is that she is very respectful even towards people who may be younger to her. The weakness for right now is that she is flirting with one of the facilitators
- Her name is Monaza. She has a Masters in Social Sciences and has worked at several places. While working with VISION in pervious projects, it was her first experience to work with this group. She considers herself to be a learner and wants to continue learning. She always fulfils the commitments that she may have made. She has worked on projects regarding livelihood. The weakness is that she gets angry easily
The second activity after the introduction in the first half of the day was random walk. The objective of this activity was to enhance trust and team building among the participants and negotiation of spaces that one may find desirable for her/himself.
The activity was divided into three parts. In the first part, each individual had to randomly walk in a given space on the beat of the music. Once the music stopped, the participants also had to stop and fill each spot in the allocated space. The second part of the activity was to divide in pairs and maintain eye contact with each other while walking however, the challenge was that each pair was to find a suitable place for itself not bumping into each other. The final part of this activity was that while one partner had her/his eyes closed, the other had to walk along and guide that partner to a suitable space for filling it up. The same exercise was to be repeated by the other partner who had closed the eyes earlier.
Following was some of the reflections on this exercise:
- Liked the activity very much. We were walking with closed eyes.
- I think the objective of this activity was that if one did not know the way then the other was supposed to guide him/her and take him/her along.
- It was for purposes of taking your companion along with you
- It inculcated a sense of responsibility in me
- I had to trust my companion
- I had the fear of falling but I trusted my companion
- Through eye contact we were able to develop confidence in each other. I also felt that I could look into other people’s eyes and can walk in the society and say whatever I want to say
- I had a fear of falling
- I had the fear of bumping in others
- I trusted my companion
- I felt that we also have people around us such as our community
- When I opened my eyes and helped the other person to walk, that’s when I realized my responsibility and thought that since my companion had walked me without any problems therefore I should also do the same
- I liked helping others
- We were telling each other
- It enhanced confidence in each other
- The way I helped my companion, I expected him to help me
Captain of the Ship
The part objective of this exercise is to firstly understand the community’s perspective of leadership and their own notion of who can be a leader and what they may want to see as some of the qualities in their leader. This exercise was also aimed to enhance listening skills as well as understanding and following the instructions. It was designed to enable the participants to empathize with the leadership of the group and the challenge that the leader may be facing but still is willing to lead everyone through a problematic situation. This exercise also encouraged the participants to use their skills to the maximum or even if they do not have certain skills, it forced them to make an effort to acquire that skill.
On question what motivated them to choose a particular person as their captain, following were some of the key responses:
- He speaks English and is intelligent and he helps everyone
- He has the ability of a leader
- We felt that the leader is intelligent and knows how to handle the situation
Remaining questions generated a discussion which is captured as follows:
“The quality of a leader should be that he is able to speak and has a sense of responsibility towards others. He should feel the pain of others and should be sensitive towards the needs of her/his people. Should be a strong personality and should be flexible. Leader is like a parent and he/she should exude a sense that makes others feel that she/he is one of them. Leader should be such that one can share everything with her/him. A leader should be innovative and should not be following others. A leader should be educated and a responsible person who is willing to take others along and feels responsible for everyone around him/her. S/he should also be aware of all the information regarding the people who have chosen him/her as a leader. Leader never orders rather plans things along with his/her people. A leader should listen to everyone and should try to solve their problems. A leader should not feel superior to his/her own people and should consider them, her/his supporters as equals.”
On the segment of strategy of how to save the ship, following were some of the thoughts:
“I selected 2 sub leaders who were responsible to provide emergency support/assistance wherever needed in the ship e.g. life jackets, water bottles, oxygen cylinders and etc. As a backup plan a helicopter was arranged for evacuation as final and last resort in case the ship capsized. Aside from these two people, one person with Information Technology (IT) background was appointed to stay in touch with air/land base via wireless equipments. The leader expected that everybody in the ship would cooperate and give inputs in terms of efforts physical and emotional support. The leader felt that with all the preparations there was miscommunication in terms of handling the situation”
As far as the people who were in the ship were concerned following was some of the discussion that took place after the activity:
“I was scared of drowning in the water. It was a difficult time. We judged that some of us had skills, although we select leaders but we are not able to communicate with them which results in miscommunication. Leader should not be asking others rather than making decisions. Tell me, if it was a real life situation, would Sarim-leader in this activity, have been able to resolve or solve all the problems that we were facing with similar courage. Anyways, there was lot of encouragement. Every person was helping each other. I was feeling that my life was in danger. Since I was playing a pregnant woman, my fear was that all these jolts may cause miscarriage. From a real life perspective, I think Sarim has the quality of gauging the situation and with courage and far sightedness in finding a solution.
The one who was playing my husband was providing me with all the proper protocol. He was bringing me water and oxygen whenever I needed it.”
The leader reflected upon his experience in the following way:
“We do not differentiate between dictatorship and leadership. All the people in the ship were expecting that I was a dictator whereas; I feel that all the people had selected me. I feel that a leader will always take his/her people along. I was feeling the responsibility but there was a communication gap. I did not know that there was a pregnant woman on board. For leader, it is very important to have 360 degree clarity of things. Of course there is a risk factor in everything. I did not show my own fear to anyone of them because that would have developed into a crisis and they would have lost confidence and for purposes of keeping hope alive, I hid my own fear. I knew that there was chaos on the ship but to survive the mess up I did not leave my place.
See, if the team that had been selected was introduced to us, this chaos could have been avoided.”
River of Life
The Activity River of Life helped participants to go through each segment of their lives and think in a way that they could verbalize it with the raw feelings that they felt at the moment. Some of the conversations captured in the reflection are as follows.
ADNAN: I have been my mother’s favorite. These pictures on the chart reflect my mother and me together. My mother wanted a girl when I was born. She used to dress me up as a girl. Till middle school, I was very attached to my younger sister. I used to sleep soundly in my childhood. I am fond of going out of the country and exploring the world. I like keeping cell phones that are expensive and branded. In childhood, I used to scream a lot. I was an angry child. There was not much freedom for me during my childhood. At 9 O’clock the doors of the house used to close. My father was working in Saudi Arabia. I was very girlish and was fond of painting. I wanted freedom. My father would buy me colors to paint. I am fond of wearing good clothes. I want people to admire me for my clothes. I am a student of fine arts. This picture is showing that I am interested in boys. I am gay. I am fond of fashion designing. I am very fond of wearing colognes and always want that my cologne should leave a trail of fragrance from wherever I walk. I like eating sweet things. I want to be in showbiz and become a makeup artist. I want that I should do the makeup of actors acting in a play. I want to have long hair. I want to possess lot of clothes and shoes. In future, I want to explore the world. I want to be acknowledged through an award for my work as a makeup artist.
SARIM: My life is quite complex. In childhood, I used to be like girls. I used to put on makeup and play with dolls. I had a childhood crush. I wanted that this person should remain with me all the time. We used to share toffees with each other. I was sexually abused and was subject to sexual violence. There was a group who wanted to change my orientation and in that process they abused me and then beat me. After that I decided that I needed support. That is when I told my family about myself. It took three years and then the family not only accepted me but accepted me from their hearts. This helped me in taking a leap forward. This picture that shows two signs stands for the male and female sign. For me both are equal. This is advocacy. One should raise one’s voice so that it brings results. In future, I want to go outside Pakistan and work for the rights of LGBT. This flag in the picture is the rainbow flag which signifies the LGBT populations. I also see myself balancing between my personal and professional life. I am not hungry for award or recognition. I just want to put my share in the movement of LGBT.
ASAD: There are many things that I cannot express. I have always been scared of bicycles. All the boys in my family would bike around except me, for which my cousins would taunt me and mentally torture me to have this fear of biking. I love remaining in fantasy world. I like cartoons. Till class 8th, I was always nervous and even though I had good grades but my fear of biking could never be substituted by the grades I brought in my studies. I am very comfortable with girls. At one point in my life, I became very ugly. I may not have any picture of that time. Then when I grew up, I thought to myself that I should do something to overcome this fear of riding a bike and I bought myself a camera. I am a social media star. My pictures are discussed internationally and on Instagram. People appreciate my photography. I like travelling and seeing different countries. I like things organized. I may not have that much power but the picture of this girl depicts that I want to achieve my aims like her. Here I have put a picture where I am trying to tell people that I want to remain energetic till my last breath.
USMAN: This picture is of me and my mother together. My mother wanted a girl. This other picture shows my father and his children. I love my younger sister. This picture shows a wedding and a family. This is me, this is my husband and these are my children. I want to be like her. This picture is of my husband and me. I told you that this is my father.
FARHAD: This is time that is swiftly going by. This is my mother’s birthday and she celebrates it with lot of fondness. This is the person I had an affair with and that is why I never studied. I am not an educated person. Then I thought that maybe I should get into the business of selling cosmetics. This is me as a beautician. This is my wife and my child.
SAIF: This picture reminds me of my mother and father and when I was very small and was being bottle fed. I was very fond of dancing. The people used to taunt me on that. I started doing functions but decided that I should not tarnish the honor of my family. Then I thought maybe I should have a wife and children and once married, this picture shows that we are all travelling and going to different places.
TAYYAB: I am tayyab and a student of ICS from Multan. I have learnt one thing in life that unless I am not willing to change myself, nobody is going to change me. I am from a middle class family. In my childhood, I used to enjoy a lot. In present, for me my studies are very important. Until and unless we are not equipped with education, how can we move ahead? I have lots of dreams but for that I have to change myself. These are my best friends. They help me in everything. We move on with consensus. Even if we are from third gender, still we have to move on like everyone else. I want that I should have everything available to me and at no point should I ask anyone for any kind of help.
During the refection process, following were some of the thoughts that were shared in the session:
- A nice activity helped us in remembering our old times
- There are many people in the world who become judgmental and that’s why at times we are not able to express ourselves
- I went into this flashback where many memories came back. In past, I did not have the realization that I was being harassed.
- One cannot change the childhood. 50% of my childhood and 50% of my present situation is fine.
- I learnt from other people’s life story also and this has started a learning process for me.
- We thought that our lives were tough but it seems that everybody had problems in their lives.
- This has provided me with an opportunity to tell people about my life.
- The past was painful.
- The future part is good.
- Now people taunts my family that your son is a Khusra (transgender)
- I felt that others in the room had a far more complicated life than mine.
- I liked it. This fantasy world where there are so many colors through these pictures. This was my desire that I should be provided with a platform from where I could tell people about my life.
- What I did not like the most was my past and what I liked is the thinking about future.
- One can change the present but cannot do anything about the past and that always remains like a crack in your life that you have to live with.
Concluding this session, the facilitator emphasized that the objective of the exercise was never to cause any pain to the participants but sometimes we keep certain harmful things and thoughts within our system and this bottling up of such emotions does not have a positive effect on the person’s mental and physical health. At times, it is best to speak about them and get it out of the system. He further added that if this exercise caused any grief especially in revisiting the childhood, he is apologetic however, now that they have spoken about it, it’s best to reach out to the facilitator or the remaining facilitation team to talk about these issues whenever they feel haunted by their past. He ensured all the participants that team VISION is always accessible to listen to them on whatever issues that they may have faced in their childhood or may be facing in their present situations.
Struggle and Skills needed to achieve the Aspirations
On the two video clips that were viewed by the participants as an example of two different people struggling and getting what they wanted in their lives by keeping their focus on the objectives that they wanted to achieve in front of them. On the first video clip that was capturing some moments of life of a famous Pakistani female singer, following were some of the thoughts shared by the participants:
- She respected her teacher
- She continued the learning process throughout her life
- Whosoever respect their teachers will always be successful in their lives
- Her teacher was her Guru and she would not want to be separated from him for a single moment in her life as she wanted to learn everything from him
- She said in her conversation that without a teacher there is nothing that one can do
- Where she was in her life and what she had achieved, she could have taken credit for everything but remained humble and responded with humility
On the other video which was about an individual who was an acid burn survivor, following were some of the reflections:
- You made us cry
- Now when we see our lives, it seems easy
- The woman had an objective in her life and her focus was to get her daughters and she continued to fight for them
- Nobody supported her, not even her parents and she managed to continue healing her own wounds that resulted from the acid attack with courage
- She was going through very tough times; physically and mentally and there was not even a single soul to pray for her
- I had a female teacher who was a daughter of a fruit vendor. She studied and started teaching in a school. She earned and saved for marrying her other sisters. Once all the sisters were married, most of her friends suggested her to get married as well. She agreed and her marriage was arranged. One of the brothers in law did not want her to marry because that would have stopped the flow of income that was coming from her. To ensure that she does not remain marriageable, what he did was that he threw acid on her. She survived the attack with the intervention from the project “SMILE” that is part of this beauty parlor chain called Depilex. However, still the woman wears a Niqaab (veil) and her eyes are visible only. She continues to teach but has restricted herself from social mingling. Yes, she did report the matter to the authorities. The brother in law was arrested but then the sister came and begged her to forgive the brother in law as the sister had little children and there was nobody to look after them.
In perspective building exercises, two different activities were conducted. In the first activity, a chart paper with an enlarged figure 3 in the middle of the paper was put in centre and the participants were asked to divide themselves in 3 different angles or sides of the chart. Three participants each stood on each side.
For one group of three, this figure was a letter “W”, whereas, for one group it was “3” and for another group it was “E”. This is when the facilitators explained to the participants that it all depends where one is placed in life and viewing a situation. It is essential that we respect all the points of views and take into account all perspectives while analyzing a situation.
The second activity was conducted with a glass of water which was half full. When the facilitator showed the glass with water to the participants and asked the question as to what they saw in the glass. Most of them answered that they saw half glass of water while the other half was empty. At this point, the facilitator reinforced that the choice remains always with individuals whether they want to see half glass full and be grateful that half is full while striving to fill the remaining half or always complain about the empty part of the glass. Referring to the video clips shared earlier with the participants, the facilitator said that probably in both situations the two ladies saw half glass full and kept on struggling for filling up the remaining half. Therefore, it is one’s own perspective of looking and analyzing the situation that enables them to make the best of their lives.
The day started with the facilitators telling the participants the agenda of the day while talking about the agenda the facilitators also informed that since there will be two guests speakers and except that they will be coming in the first half of the day, the precise time of the speakers is not known and thus, planned activities may have to discontinue our upon their arrival, however, the activities will be continued as per schedule once the guest speakers depart. At this point, the facilitators then asked the participants to reflect upon the previous day which is as follows:
Reflection on Previous Day
- What I remember from yesterday is random walk. Supporting each other, caring for each other and trusting each other
- It was an interesting exercise when we were looking into each other’s eyes and were also walking with closed eyes
- My takeaway from yesterday was that life is never complete and one has to continue the struggle for getting somewhere. I want to take full advantage of this space and the objective of this workshop
- My reference point is River of Life and it was through that; I realized the distinction between my past and my present
- My reference point is the theatre activity from yesterday and it was a good reflection of the turning points in the life of a transgender person
- The theatre was a great way of creating awareness in general public
- In reference to problem tree, I figured out how we can resolve some of our problems by using the laws
- Through the problem tree I learnt to find solutions to my problems
- In the exercise regarding problem tree, I understood that one has to first inspect the problem properly and find the reason of why the problem is there
This activity was followed by a reflection session in which the participants were able to reflect upon the efficacy and possible implementation. Some of the thoughts that came from the group are as follows:
- When I was asked to sit down and he took off my dupatta and caught my hand, he was sexually harassing me
- There are many laws but nothing gets implemented and also we do not know of all the laws. We should be aware of laws.
- We should identify some lawyer in Multan who is supportive to the cause of transgender people and whenever needed can be helpful for us
When asked the question that how can the law be implemented? Some of the responses are as follows:
- We should empower ourselves and should know the laws, in addition to sensitizing the different departments of our needs
- If I am a policy maker then I will analyze the problems that the transgender populations are facing and will see where the gaps are in law so that I can address the problems. I will also make a plan to monitor myself.
At the end of the workshop, team VISION distributed red ribbon pins (symbolizing protection from HIV & AIDS) to all the participants and suggested that it would be nice to hear a pledge from the participants that they would do their best to protect themselves and their friends by creating the awareness on protection from HIV & AIDS. They were further encouraged to use social media to spread out the message on the wider scale in their own networks.
The facilitator said that it will be a good start to do this campaign if by next workshop at the end of November each one of them has seeked a similar pledge from ten of their friends and whosoever becomes part of the network should wear this pin.
The facilitator further reinforce that the participants should also do the same with the law that team VISION has now translated in Urdu for them. In other words, the participants should circulate this law among their friends through the medium of social media.
The workshop ended with the final comment that transgender persons will benefit immensely if the above information is shared widely