Kelly Manoudi, you are project coordinator and youth worker specialized in human rights education in Euphoria Youth Organization, Greece. Can you tell me more about your work and how it is connected to work with LGBTI people?
Dear Katarina, first of all I would like to thank you for your invitation. Its a pleasure to talk with activists and open-minded people like you. My approach to LGBT people started long-time ago, it was during my high school years. Actually the first time I heard the term homosexual was after the death of Freddie Mercury and the same time I heard so much hate speech about him and for homosexuals.
Although I didn't have any gay people (as far as I know) in my family environment, I had some basic knowledge what homosexuality was about and I couldn't understand why gay and trans people should face such discrimination for being different. I noticed that inside my classmates there were people that did not match to the stereotype girl or boy. I started talking closely to them and slowly they reveal their secret. From that moment I realized that I wanted to stand by them and support them in the point that I could.
The years went by and taking part to several European projects together with the feeling of an active citizen I was directed to youth work and project management of European and international projects.
Being a youth worker means that you work with and for young people. You have to listen, understand, support and empower them to their way from childhood to adult life.
Among the many young people that I have met during my work, there were also LGBTI people. Most of them, specially the teenagers, do not have the courage to express themselves openly, so they hide their ID. In these cases I try to make them feel comfortable, to trust me and then to see how I can help them.
You have concluded a two year European project Facing Homophobia For an Inclusive Job: what the project was about, who were your project partners and how did you choose them, what each partner contributed and how? Where do you plan to disseminate your results?
The project 'Facing Homophobia For an Inclusive Job' was a biannual project which aimed to fight the discriminations at workplace against LGBTI people. We organized several events like trainings, debates and networks at local, national and international level.
My project partners were Giolli cooperative from Italy (which was the applicant organization) and PiNA organization from Slovenia. Giolli aims in creating a more peaceful, fair and democratic world using mainly Boal's theatre method, Paulo Freire's pedagogical approach, Active no-violence and Community Development Approach. Pina association for culture and education is based in Koper, Slovenia is an organization for social development and they contribute to the project by making the final video and teaching the method 'Loesje'. From my side I was responsible for the coordination of the trainings held in Greece and for the editing of the handbook.
The final, lets say, products of this project is a handbook and a video which promote the LGBTI’s inclusion in the labour market. The video is already online, you can find it on YouTube and the handbook will be realized very soon in English, Italian, Greek, Spanish, French and Slovenian language.
One of the project results is also a handbook for LGBTI inclusion in the labour market. Whom this handbook is for and how can it be used?
This handbook is useful for each person working in the field of anti-discrimination towards LGBTI people, both professionals and activists, trainers, educators, adult education providers, Center for Employment officers, decision makers, responsible of Public Institutions related to the topic, etc. because it provides tools to organize training in companies, trade-unions, LGBTI associations in order to strengthen the skills to tackle discrimination. Even if the focus is about “discrimination against LGBTI people in the labour market” most of the activities can be used in several contexts about different topics.
Do you think that sexual orientation and/or sexual identity with such projects comes at handy or it does not matter at all?
From my personal involvement in projects which promotes the issue of sexual identity I can tell you that the results are very positive. It is a big opportunity to talk in public about it, to inform, to educate and finally to break stereotypes. With the project FHOFIJ I had the change to approach people from LGBTI community, to interact and learn from them, to make friendships, even to participate for the first time in a Pride parade in Greece!
Greece is one of the countries that sexual education in public and some private schools does not exists. The results of this absence are not only negative for LGBT pupils because of bullying but also unwanted pregnancy for teenage girls. Even gender-based crimes have roots in bad or not haveing any sexual education in school.
What are your other important projects you would like to tell us about?
One project that I was coordinating last year was about gender issues called “Fighting Gender Inequality through Youth Work”. The goal of this capacity building project was to promote gender equal society by strengthening competencies of CSO's representatives coming from participating organizations to tackle roots of gender inequality and effectively respond on them. The objectives were reached through mobility and capacity building activities including kick of meeting, seminar, training courses, study visits, job shadowing, local training and evaluation meeting. Key project activities were based on non-formal learning and target group of these activities were youth workers interested in gender.
What inspires you most in your work and in your personal life, where your inspiration comes?
I love working with young people specially teenagers because they are our hope for a better future. I want to empower them so that they can get to know themselves and not be afraid to take initiatives in order to improve their lives. Personally, what I enjoy most is travelling and meeting interesting people. My inspiration is my family and my close friends, I want to make a better world for them, at least I want to try.
At last but not least, what are you currently working on and what are your plans for the future?
This year and for the next one I am working on a project called 'Generation Europe - Young Democracy in Action'. During this project 30 youth work organizations from 15 European countries are working together in trilateral partnerships with the aim, to excite youths from different backgrounds, especially those with fewer opportunities,for political activity on a local and European level. The main topic of GenE is Active European Citizenship (AEC). A central focus will be on problems identified by youths on local levels, which are then worked on with democratic methods on the European level. By working on specific problems related to their life world politics should be shown to be more than parliamentarian's and involvement with political parties. However, the connection between the local and European level is especially important for the project. Through continuous exchange in European groups (digitally via a platform and personal meetings in youth exchanges) the youths should reflect their local situation and recognize the European dimension of the problem. Europe thus becomes tangible and connected to their life world.
My future plans is to organize mobilities for young people further than Europe, to Asia and Africa.
I hope that youth will be better as adults as we are now.