To many unsuspecting people the day of 8 January may seem to be a very ordinary day – which, we hasten to assure you, it is not. There are many remarkable historical events that happened on January 8 – for example, in 1297 Monaco gained independence, while in 1877 Crazy Horse and his warriors fought t heir last battle with the United States Cavalry at Wolf Mountain.
If we have not convinced you of the significance of January 8 as a day, here is our last argument:
Behold, for so it happened that Labrys first office was opened on January 8 as long as three years ago!
To celebrate the occasion Labrys staff organized a small get together of community members and partner organizations on 8 January, 2008. To add on to the birthday euphoria, we collocated the celebration with an unofficial opening of our all new Community Centre/Shelter project in a new four-room apartment with a training hall to die for. About 30 people came to congratulate Labrys with the establishment of its office some three years ago. The festive programme prepared included a greeting speech by Labrys chair, refreshments, and games to bring people closer.
What is Community Centre?
Community Centre is a new project of Labrys possibly co-funded by Hivos and COC-Netherlands (no confirmations yet). The main aim of the community centre is providing a safe and alternative place for LGBT communities to spend quality time at, while developing a feeling of unity within the different groups. Within its four-room premises it hosts a resource centre, shelter and training hall – nearly all self-sufficient little world in which everyone may feel secure. The resource centre includes informational, educational and entertainment material for LGBT clients visiting the CC. This, along with trainings and seminars planned in the year 2008, serves the purpose of empowering the communities. The shelter component was designed after a successful pilot project launched in 2006 and finished in mid-2007. Its main goal is providing those LGBT people in crisis with temporary shelter and support in finding new footholds.
Plans for the Community Centre
As maybe expected, Labrys has great plans for the community centre in 2008 and further on. Holidays and other significant dates will be celebrated within the centre premises, as well as biweekly self-help groups and informal meetings. In addition there are numerous trainings envisioned for the benefit of our communities. All of the trainings and meetings themes will come from the communities themselves. Along with this the CC will offer counseling services to those in need of help or even just a sympathetic ear. The birthday of Labrys office itself was a fun and friendly event, gathering 32 people, who had much fun with the programme prepared by the Labrys staff. As the Murphy’s Law goes, the first guests came before everything was ready, but this only added to the feeling of unity that Labrys aims for. The 15 chairs and 3 tables promised to arrive half day before the event started came one hour after it started. Thus, at first the guests has to sit on the traditional sitting carpets in an empty training hall. Later when the furniture came there was no severe division of contracted staff and guests – everyone worked together to prepare the premises for the rest. With refreshments brought in the festive evening was started. It kicked off with a greeting/intro speech of Labrys chair, Anna Kirey, who introduced all members of Labrys staff and volunteers constituting quite a crowd after Labrys years of work.
Once the food part of the evening was done with, the merriest part started with a “Scavenger Hunt” game. The guests were divided into two teams and given a list of items they were asked to have by the expiry of 30 minutes. The items requested included: 20 cigarette-butts, 1 enamoured gay man, 1 cup of soil, five hats, 1 rainbow flag, 3 ideas for a Community Centre logo, 1 dancing transsexual, and 1 half-a-litre bottle of Coca Cola. Needless to say, with such items there was much fun to be had and so it was. At the end of the game, both of the teams were proclaimed winners, as there was no difference in points gained and taken for minor errors. The evening culminated with giving away of prizes for most active participants of the evening.
The Community Centre project will be officially presented on 16 February 2008 at Labrys office. We intend to invite mass media reps and partner organizations to the official part and continue with a strictly community-only celebration later on at the community centre.