Human rights defender, researcher, and development professional, Dumiso Gatsha is a beacon of hope to the marginalised Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer and other non-conforming (LGBTIQ+) communities.
Gatsha’s impressive work spans various projects, including the establishment of a youth-led, NGO called Success Capital that serves young LGBTIQ+ people, psyches, bodies and experiences.
He and his partners at Success Capital NGO proposed a game-changing app to provide access to services for communities of LGBTIQ+ people and sex workers in Botswana. The project was a result of extensive consultations and one of the solutions to the challenges documented in a research study they conducted on lived experiences.
Gatsha serves his community by conducting research, offering mentorship and facilitating training in sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), HIV Prevention, professional development, entrepreneurship and self-efficacy in challenging environments.
“My purpose in life is not only to safeguard, defend and ensure the human rights of young Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, and other non conforming (LGBTIQ+) individuals, but also to encourage each of them to thrive and excel in their own life’s purpose,” he said.
Dumiso was not born into privilege. He used his natural talents and skills to disrupt the status quo. The grandchild of a domestic worker in former Northern Rhodesia, Gatsha was raised by two teacher parents.
“As a teenager; I did not know what abuse, discrimination or even injustice was. I only acknowledged this ignorance when I made the decision to become an activist. I have vowed never to allow another child to grow up in the circumstances I did,” he said.
At the height of his activism, he recalled his father once asking him to “tone down” his activism as it was negatively impacting his father’s own relations. He said this fuelled his passion to persevere.
He spent five years completing a three-year degree due to financial limitations, strained family relations and testing self-belief. In the midst of a nervous breakdown, Gatsha decided to come out to himself and the world. The impact of finally admitting his truth ignited a fervour in Gatsha to excel.
The following five years led to him completing five post-graduate programmes including two masters’ degrees in strategy and law respectively, and achieving a Chartered Global Management Accountant designation.
All this was achieved while working for esteemed global outfits that nurtured his talent and allowed him to be who he is today. These include PwC, GIZ, Zurich (now Bryte) and UNDP. Dumi’s various academic titles include PhD (Law) candidate, ACMA, CGMA, M.Phil, M.Sc, and B.Com.
The young leader managed to complete a countrywide study on lived experiences of LGBTIQ+ people under a regional United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) project and successfully started a movement of young people not defined by their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Success Capital has made an immense contribution to a limited body of knowledge in human rights research on young LGBT individuals in HIV Prevention in Commonwealth Africa and SRHR. Through various capacities (HIV/AIDS Peer Educator, Support Group Focal Person, Trustee, Board Member, Coordinator and/or Consultant) Dumi has contributed to various accountability mechanisms.