Introducing some members of the Collaborative
Photo provided by Samatha Wehbi, Ph.D. at samathawehbi.com.
Founder, Principal Director, Producer, Editor, Co-Author
I am the founder of our Collaborative. I am also the producer and principle director of Because She Cares: A Critical Poetic Retelling and the editor and co-author of its poetry anthology. This project stems from my deep admiration of the African, Caribbean and Black immigrant women with whom I have worked for nearly 20 years as a volunteer, HIV advocate, front-line worker, and researcher.
Because She Cares: A Poetic Retelling is based on my Ph.D. research where I used oral and performance-based methods grounded in Africentric worldviews to share the stories of African women living with HIV who were employed in Canadian AIDS service organizations. I endeavoured to find creative ways to mobilize their stories for I feel we can all benefit from their wisdom.
I completed my Ph.D. at McMaster School of Social Work in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. I continue my arts-based knowledge mobilization as a consultant for 7.10 stories.
Photo provided by Samantha Webhi at samathawehbi.com
I have worked directly with HIV-positive people for more than 20 years. I have experienced both sides of an HIV diagnosis. I am an HIV-positive woman, and I have the experience of working with HIV-positive people.
I have experienced both joy and frustration because of my position as an HIV positive person working in the HIV field; joy that I have a job and that I can help and get help from my peers. The frustration comes from the knowledge that the HIV-positive people must fight for recognition and respect.
I am an intelligent HIV+ African woman who loves life, appreciates, and love people.
I am of Rwandese nationality, and a mother of four children, I have lived with HIV for 23 years, and have been an HIV activist, and advocate for 21 years.
In Rwanda, I was a consultant at CARE International promoting GIPA/MIPA principles in the fight against stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV/AIDS. In Canada, I am actively engaged in local HIV/AIDS prevention and care planning. I am also a committed educator: I have participated in the HIV Speakers Bureau, and have volunteered at The People With AIDS Foundation, Africans in Partnership Against AIDS, Oasis Centre des femmes, and Women’s Health in Women’s Hands Community Health Centre. I am a global HIV advocate. I am a member of the International Community of Women living with HIV (ICW). I was the national representative for three years in my country; now, I am involved with ICW North America, assisting their membership drive, and breaking the silence surrounding violence against women.
I advocate to end HIV stigma and discrimination through social media, TV, documentaries, radio, digital stories, and now theatre and spoken word. My vision is to educate people about HIV prevention, work to fight all forms of stigma and discrimination and promote diversity in all facets of life including sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, colour, race and economic class.
Because She Cares demonstrates alternative and creative ways of doing credible research and knowledge translation and exchange, and that cultural relevance matters. Listening to the experiences of the Narrators through storytelling and poetry has proven to be far more powerful to me than any report. I am deeply, deeply honoured and humbled to be a member of the Collaborative.
Performer, Advisory Member
I am originally from the Ivory Coast and have lived in Canada since 2006. I have been a human rights activist, for the last 15 years, working with various communities on promoting diversity and inclusion as well as working to address human rights issues related to HIV and Key Affected Populations.
In 2003, I co-founded the first LGBT+ organization called Arc-en-ciel Plus based in Côte d’Ivoire. As member of the Canadian Network of Positive People and member of Gay, MSM and Trans Positive (GMT+), I took an active part in writing the Paris Declaration for Key Affected Population as well as the Undetectable = Untransmissible Campaign. In 2016, I founded the House of Culture and Arts for Human Diversity based in Côte d’Ivoire; an organization that aims to use Culture, Arts and Sports to address issues related to HIV, Human rights and advocacy. As an activist I have actively contributed to building the Movement across the African continent. As a Queer feminist, I aim to educate and engage men in promoting women rights and gender-based equality.
I have worked in the HIV/AIDS sector for over 13 years and held senior positions with the African and Caribbean Council on HIV/AIDS in Ontario (ACCHO) and the International Council of AIDS Service Organizations (ICASO). Currently, I am a senior policy analyst with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care's AIDS and Hepatitis C Programs.
Over the years, I have heard of countless stories of the challenges people living with HIV from African, Caribbean and Black communities face in their daily lives. When Lori brought up the idea of looking at employment for HIV-positive African women, my only thoughts were, "you have to pursue it" and "how can I help?" Because She Cares reflects not only the experiences of HIV-positive African women, but that of other immigrant women and newcomer individuals living with HIV.
What attracted me to Because She Cares, is its creative approach of arts activism. I have known Lori for many years through the community work we both do on HIV. I truly feel thankful to be a member of the team of Because She Cares, a very creative and educative project that she is passionately leading.