On Friday, March 22, Eurasian Coalition on Male Health (ECOM) — with the support of UNFPA regional office — finished the first training of trainers in the region which took place in Tbilisi to promote the MSMIT international manual.

For three days, 18 trainers, leaders, and activists of LGBT and MSM service organizations from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Estonia have been discussing how this tool can help them to improve their comprehensive work with MSM in their countries.

‘MSMIT is the Bible of prevention for those who work with gays and other MSM. This tool is equally useful for human rights defenders, service providers and those who provide assistance for MSM,’ said Evgeny Pisemsky, the head of the NGO ‘Phoenix Plus’ (Orel, Russia).

In 2018, ECOM specialists and consultants developed a training manual introducing MSMIT, aimed at training community leaders. However, it is extremely important to advocate the approach and the services recommended by MSMIT, which means that training sessions and seminars should be held not only for activists, but also for government officials, health professionals, members of the country coordinating mechanisms(CCM).

This was the main objective of the training: to teach participants to hold events for different target groups and to adjust their duration, because officials do not always have an opportunity to spend 2 days at training. Sometimes they can have only 15 minutes for a CCM meeting, but even this limited time is a chance to draw attention to the needs and problems of the community.

‘I thought I had nothing to learn, and it turned out that I was wrong. I have been familiar with MSMIT for many years, but then the trainers made me see it in a different way and feel the need to use it. It was interesting to listen to the people telling about the experience of other countries, to think about its application in your own one. Super! Thank you for the invitation!’ said Roman Dudnik, the head of AFEW-Kazakhstan, sharing his impressions after the training.

For this training, ECOM invited exceptional professionals who are few and far between in our region. Denis Kamaldinov, one of the co-authors of the MSMIT training manual, and Kakhaber Kepuladze, one of the few trainers who helped to implement the manual in different countries of our region, showed the participants different aspects of MSMIT and inspired them to use it. Elena German, the Program Director of ECOM, also shared her secrets of the art of training.  

‘It is very pleasant when professional trainers work for professional people. The process was extremely pleasant,’ said Yuri Avdeev, a participant from Russia.

Of course, three days were obviously not enough to study such a major tool, combined with the training of coaching skills, but the training has achieved the main goal which was to interest everyone in the use of MSMIT at the national level in order to improve the life of the community, and this achievement was confirmed by the participants.

‘During the three days of immersion in the “anatomy of a MSMIT training” I received such a volume of valuable information and important experiences that I think I will continue to process them on my way home. The entire section of training work was organized in a very clear and effective manner which allowed me to enjoy the process. As a result, my expectations were exceeded. A lot of things contributed to it: a clear manner of developing and holding a training, where everything is provided in a necessary order and step by step; the presentation of the material which combined logic, clarity and visual aspects; individual support (because even a mature and confident trainer sometimes needs such a valuable resource as support). For me, the most important thing in the training of trainers was practice, it was invaluable experience. The key thing for me was the detailed training of coaching skills on particular cases. Feedback was also very important, and at the same time I realized what a huge amount of knowledge I have yet to gain!’ said Lachin Aliyev, the head of the Estonian network of PLWH, having finished the training.