Since my last update, we have continued our efforts to support, motivate, and empower young LGBTI people in Bulgaria. Below are some of our notable initiatives / accomplishments.
As part of Single Step’s efforts to offer comprehensive resources for the LGBTI community in Bulgaria we introduced a very targeted HIV initiative, #endHIVbg, as a logical addition and an essential resource for prevention, testing, and psychological help for LGBTI people in the country. The first major undertaking is an innovative, targeted pilot campaign targeting hard-to-reach groups, in partnership with Grindr (the world largest social networking app for gay, bi, trans, and queer people), GlaxoSmithKline, Gilead Sciences and the National Patients’ Organization (the largest such organization in Bulgaria). Starting in September 2018, we distributed 900 entirely free, OraQuick® HIV oral-fluid self-testing kits to MSM (“Men who have sex with men”) in the country. As part of the initiative users had to fill out an online survey. The collected data will be utilized to publish a report with 2 main goals in mind: (i) internal: as a community-led initiative, we plan to use the report to lobby the relevant institutions in Bulgaria in order to introduce confidential home self-testing as a sustainable and viable alternative to legacy testing centers; and (ii) external: Grindr plans to use the findings from our initiative as a practical case study for other markets globally. We plan to present the results from the pilot program and the survey, at major HIV / AIDS international conferences.
We were recently notified by Positive Action Challenges (a ViiV-funded initiative) that our #endHIVbg pilot program has been provisionally awarded a "Breaking Out of the Echo Chambers" prize of USD$10,000, subject to an external validation process.
On September 27th, 2018 Single Step's volunteers won the TimeHeroes’ “Power of Spirit” award for their dedication, motivation and their heart, for operating our online chat service. This is a huge recognition for Single Step, since TimeHeroes is the largest and widely respected volunteer platform in the country.
I was incredibly humbled to have been selected from over 6,000 applicants from all over the world to join the pilot Facebook Community Leadership Program (FCLP) with Single Step, alongside other aspiring leaders building meaningful communities in 46 countries, both online and offline. As part of the program, we will receive funding, training, and support to advance further positive social impact in our communities and countries. In Facebook’s own words: “We started FCLP to address the needs identified by community leaders. This global initiative will give over 100 participants from around the world the support, tools, funding and the belief in themselves that they need to best lead their communities.”
I hope that in our next update report, I will be able to report on the launch of our very ambitious new project related to establishing our Community Center, as an innovative social enterprise. Stay tuned!
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