Youth Voices Count In My Heart

Youth Voices Count In My Heart


Youth Voices Count In My Heart

Youth Voices Count In My Heart


Youth Voices Counts (YVC) is a regional network of young people who are leaders and advocates on MSM and Transgender issues (and other related issues like sex work and HIV/AIDS) . As part of their advocacy, YVC  came up with a program where they would want to create more leaders of young people from different countries and diverse backgrounds. It is called the Ignite Mentorship Program. It is where selected candidates will be put through trainings and workshops which will lead/make them into being leaders in their own respective countries. The great thing to add is that they will also be mentored by leaders in their respective countries.

So I applied for this program as it was recommended by my co-worker. I filled it up and BOOM.  I was selected for this two-year program. I got the opportunity to not only to learn but also improve myself in diverse ways.

Credit: Andrey Tran

In the workshop I met many wonderful beautiful people from various countries. The are 10 mentees selected for the workshops and all of them come from different countries such as India, pakistan, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Fiji and Bhutan. These are the young leaders in their own countries working or volunteering in organizations in their countries.

Having to meet them is really amazing. Example, Moon is a 23 year old from Pakistan and she the Project Manager in KHAWAJA SIRA Society. Currently she is working on Project Diva where they strive for the advancement of the social and health needs of the transgenders by supporting the development of community led health and social interventions. Transgender woman in Pakistan often faced discrimination at education centres and therefore they are not familiar with the english language, so what this KHAWAJA SIRA Society does is educate them and teach them on their rights through a literacy program. At the age of 23 years old, Moon is doing such a meaningful thing.

Out of all I was able to learn more about the different situations in the different countries. Such as penal code 377A and how it came about and which were the countries who also penalized by that same penal code (India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Singapore). Comparing the issues of our countries, I feel that all the countries who is suffering this law should come together and make a change. I personally feel that law is there for a reason, and if there is no good reason it should not be there. As people change and the society is filled diversity there should be rights for all. Putting that in mind we should learn from each other as to be able to improve the life of the society which include all the community.

Credit: Andrey Tran

Lastly, I was able to meet with the awesome courageous guest speakers hand picked by YVC. One of the workshops I did was on leadership. Out of this workshop I had learned that there is a leader in everyone. It is only the matter of realising the leader in you and unleashing it. The workshop went like this: all the mentees were told to write down 3 qualities that we believe that a leader should posses. I wrote a leader should be understanding, patient and able to work in a team. We then paste the post it on a wall and was told to pick one that we strongly believe that a leader should have. That was when I saw the other qualities that make a leader, and so I picked up creativity. I then realised the one I choose is the one quality that I posses. Out of this workshop I realised that what you think a leader should posses does not mean you should posses it.

This is one of the activities that blew me away. We went through so many group activities which really sparked our minds and fostered fruitful understandings in specific issues.

It is indeed a blessing to be able to be part of this mentorship program that is giving us an opportunity to learn and thus transform us into leaders in our own countries. It is blessing to be able to share on specific issues we are suffering and to help each other out. Seeing people work so hard and so passionate to make the world a better place. And this is a step that consist us, the younger generation.

The darkness that I have faced I find light within myself to fight not only for myself but for the community. This is what inspires me to strive and fight for my community. And seeing people like minded as I am, it brings me to become more passionate and more courageous and more meaning to fight for these causes. As I am not alone. As we are not alone.

Credit: Andrey Tran

Maya is a 21 yea
r old Singaporean transgender woman. She is the only child and has been independent without any family since she was 19. Despite the difficulties and challenges she face, she strives her best to survive by providing professional love sessions while simultaneously taking next steps towards creating her future. She has been the Youth Programme Coordinator  at Project X since October 2014. She strives to gain knowledge in order to help others as a way to give back to her community.


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Vanessa Ho

Executive Director | [email protected]

Executive Director
[email protected]

Vanessa has been full-time with Project X since 2011, and as a result, has had many opportunities to meet and connect with sex workers in Singapore and around the world. Under her leadership, the organisation has grown from a small group of volunteers to one where there are three paid staff and a team of over 60 volunteers. Correspondingly, she has increased the annual operating budget of the organization five times, and is now recognized as the leading organization that empowers and assists women in the sex industry.

Vanessa has written and spoken extensively about sex work, human trafficking, rape culture, and LGBTQ rights in Singapore. She believes that if people can speak about sex, gender and sexuality in open and in non-judgmental ways, society will become a safer place for everyone.

Vanessa holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of Warwick, and a Masters Degree in Gender, Society and Representation from University College London.