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Lines Drawing for Because She Cares

The Collaborative

Introducing some members of The BSC Collaborative

Lori Chambers
Founder, Executive Producer,
Co-Author

Photo, Lori Chambers

I am the founder of our Collaborative. I am also the co-producer of Because She Cares: A Critical Poetic Retelling (play and film) 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 I have worked with 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.

Lori Chambers photo provided by Samantha Webhi at samathawehbi.com.

Esther Guzha,
Performer

Photo, Esther Guzha

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 HIV-positive people must fight for recognition and respect.

I am an intelligent HIV-positive African woman who loves life, appreciates, and loves people.

Chantal Mukandoli,
Performer

Photo, Chantal Mukandoli

Je suis Chantal Mukandoli originaire d’Afrique « Rwanda » prononcé(Elle),  vivant au Canada depuis 14 ans, j’ai une licence universitaire en linguistique.  Je vis avec le VIH depuis 27 ans. Actuellement je travaille à un organisme PWA (La Fondation Des Personnes Vivant Avec Le SIDA à Toronto) dans le cadre d’un programme de stages en tant que coordinatrice navigatrice du projet des femmes, et je travaille dans le projet ACN comme interprète de mots pour lutter contre la stigmatisation des femmes séropositives nouvellement arrivées au Canada qui travaille dans les organismes de la lutte contre le VIH/SIDA. 

 

Je suis Co-Présidentes de CIFVIH (Communauté International Des Femmes Vivant avec le VIH en Amérique du Nord). J’ai un haut niveau de plaidoyer en leadership communautaire sur (Logement et Abri).  Je suis chercheur dans la mise en œuvre de la stigmatisation artistique. J’ai une expérience professionnelle dans la consultation sur le VIH en santé mentale et thérapeute dans le travail social en science de l’intervention en santé cérébrale et soin à domicile.

Valérie Pierre-Pierre,
Performer

Photo, Valérie Pierre-Pierre

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. 

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.

Carlos Idibouo
Performer, Advisory Member

Photo, Carlos Idibouo

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’s rights and gender-based equality. 

What attracted me to Because She Cares is its creative approach to 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.   

Gladys Kwaramba,
Performer

Gladys Kwaramba, Photo

I have worked as a Peer Research Associate for many years in Toronto. During my time interacting with many women in my work, I felt very privileged and humbled that I carry many of their stories of struggles and resilience. I resonate with many of their stories of being women, mothers, (newcomers) immigrants and living with HIV.

 

When I heard about Because She Cares, I wanted to be involved. The creative way of retelling stories in a performance or a poem reminded me so much of how stories were told back home. I had to be part of the team. This is my way of honouring the women and a unique way of knowledge translation and disseminating findings in research. Most importantly though, I wanted to be part of Becuase She Cares because of the meaningful involvement of women living with HIV and their stories in this project. The many hats that they wear and the many struggles they face trying to navigate a new environment.