–Technical skills development training programme for transgender persons living inside walled city launched
–HIV testing centre in collaboration with Punjab HIV-AIDS Control Program also established
LAHORE: Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA), in collaboration with Akhuwat, has launched a technical skills development training programme for transgender persons living inside the walled city and the first training centre has opened its doors in the Taxali Gate area.
As per the details, the transgender persons have been registered by Akhuwat, an interest-free microfinance organisation, which would provide them stipends besides training to become beauticians, chefs and waiters.
According to the locals of the Taxali Gate, the number of transgender persons in the area is higher than any other part of the city, but they are in a miserable condition owing to the society’s behaviour towards them.
Speaking to Pakistan Today, a resident of the area said that the transgender persons ended up with professions such as begging, prostitution or dancing amid worst living conditions.
Kashish, a transgender person of the area, told Pakistan Today that they were a group of five and lived in a rented house. “It is becoming difficult for us to meet our needs as there is no suitable profession for us. What else can we do?”
“We want to spend a normal life but are considered untouchables and no one owns us. Many of us die due to different sexually-transmitted diseases as we do not even have enough resources to see a doctor,” Kashish said, adding that they were hopeful that the HIV testing centre established by WCLA in collaboration with the Punjab HIV-AIDS Control Program would facilitate them with free tests.
A transgender social worker and president of a Community Based Organisation (CBO) formed by WCLA inside Taxali, Neeli Naz said, “I am already working with different organisations for the welfare of transgender persons and with the support of WCLA and the NGO, I am hopeful that our community would move towards betterment and earning a respectable living.”
“WCLA has involved us in its restoration projects as well and has developed the centre for our skill development which is appreciable. I hope that the [transgender] community will come out of their misery as such a technical skills training programme had never been designed for us before,” she told this scribe.
WCLA Social Mobilisation Deputy Director Nosheen Zaidi said that once the skill development training of the transgender persons was completed, the authority will be working on an income generation programme for them.
“Akhuwat is also providing stipends to them. Our aim is to improve the living conditions of the people of the walled city and cannot overlook the transgender community.”
“We aim to improve the health of the transgender persons and for that purpose, an HIV Aids centre has also been opened. Further, we aim to work for the betterment of this community so that they get a better place in the society and taboos associated with them are tackled,” said WCLA Marketing and Social Mobilisation Director Asif Zaheer.
He told Pakistan Today that along with the conservation works, such initiatives for the betterment of the people of the walled city by WCLA were also important and the marginalised section had been taken up on a priority basis.