Introducing The Brethren Concern
Several years ago, Toto Tours received an email from a fledgling organization in Nairobi that was dedicated to helping men who have sex with men by teaching them about safe sex practices, supplying them with condoms, working to reconcile them with their families, and providing referrals to legal and health services when needed. This was our first contact, and we were eager to find ways to support the "Brethren" in their important work. We publicized their work in one of our monthly newsletters, posted a page on our website
, and continued to build awareness about the organization's needs. We hoped that eventually we would have a chance to meet, face to face, whenever Toto Tours offered a safari in Kenya. That day came about on Saturday, September 8, 2012. Toto Tours had just gathered in Nairobi for the start of a wildlife safari, and after our welcome dinner we met with the directors of "The Brethren Concern" to encourage their work through donations of condoms and a financial contribution. On that occasion, the director general addressed our group. What follows are his prepared remarks for that occasion.
Remarks to Toto Tours Group, September 8, 2012
Good evening! I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you all. Indeed, we are pleased and proud to have you here this evening!! In Kenya we say KARIBU SANA! My name is Dee.
It is wonderful to meet Dan and all of you in person after having communicated for many years via email. We are very grateful for the internet as a way to reach out to our brothers abroad. It is true that a journey of a thousand miles starts with one step! Who knew that this day would come when I first wrote to Dan many years ago?
Let me take a moment to introduce the other members of The Brethren Concern who are here with me tonight. As I said earlier, my name is Dee, and I am the Director-General of TBC. With me is George, our Treasurer, and Amos, our Secretary.
The Brethren Concern is a small non-profit Community Based Organization (CBO) registered with the government in Kenya. We started working with gay men in 2004. There were only a few places where we were able to meet to socialize and find partners. These places included a few clubs and the major bus terminals in the city of Nairobi. The most popular club was named Cameo, but it is now converted into a casino. Our community was desperate and much stressed due to the universal rejection we faced.
In October of 2007 we officially registered The Brethren Concern as a Community Based Organization. Since that time, regardless of the scarcity of our resources, we have been working with the community of men who have sex with men (MSMs), offering what we can condoms, making referrals and counseling. Our main objective is to advocate for the rights of MSMs to access medical care and HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.
What inspired us to start this work is the fact that most gay men face discrimination in their own families because of their sexual orientation. In addition, you cannot secure employment if you are known to be gay, you can be excommunicated from your local church, but worst of all, you cannot access health care services.
These difficulties left the majority of us with no other alternative except to take refuge in the streets. The streets are very cold and hostile. You will be arrested for soliciting. You will be beaten by other street people and even gang raped. These problems prompted us to launch this initiative to reach out to victims of this blatant discrimination!
We started without any financial support or assistance from anywhere. We went out into the streets to meet our clients carrying only our words and our intentions to do good. In the process, we have been successful in reuniting at least ten guys with their families, where they have now been accepted the way they are. We have also made referrals to others to health care facilities where they can be treated without fear of discrimination. Furthermore, we are distributing free condoms to MSMs. Most of them do not have time to collect condoms from health centers, so we bring the condoms to them.
We are accomplishing quite a bit with a scarcity of resources, but we could do so much more! Our most pressing needs are:
A permanent resource center office where MSMs can come to receive education on sexual health, and where we can hold seminars on HIV/AIDS
A permanent safe house
A health network for distribution of condoms and lubes
Used or new office equipment (computer, fax, telephone, stationery and other supplies)
An income-generating project which can sustain the organization into the future
Tonight, as we wish you a safe and exciting safari in our beloved country, Kenya, we also request that you be our ambassadors of good will when you return to your country and as you travel to other places around the globe. We look forward to partnering and working with you in the future to attain our dream of having an AIDS-free Kenya and world!
In conclusion, let me say how much we appreciate you, and the time you have sacrificed to meet with us in person! I would like to wish you, on behalf of all our members, an enjoyable and fun-filled evening, and the rest of the days you will be in Kenya. Make the most of this opportunity, and enjoy it to the fullest! Thank you again for your time and your contributions. Lets keep this spirit burning on and on!
KARIBU TENA KENYA - WELCOME TO KENYA ALWAYS!
With sincere regards,
The Brethren Concern
How You Can Help
Toto Tours will be happy to serve as the conduit for your contributions to this worthy cause, and as always when we perform this service we absorb any bank fees ourselves. We provide a full record of the bank transaction so that you know 100% of your contribution has reached its intended destination. If you prefer to send contributions directly to the organization, the bank routing information is as follows:
Bank Name: K-REP Bank Limited
Address: K-Rep Bank House, Naivasha Road, Riruta, Nairobi
Country: KE (Kenya)
Swift Code: KREPKENA
Branch: Kenyatta Avenue
Branch Code: 003
Account Number: 003060042632
Beneficiary: The Brethren Concern