IAM Staff Profile: Abby Haricombe

In this monthly series, we hand over the blog platform to IAM’s staff to share their own journeys, stories and insights in their own words. Though our journeys are all unique and individual, many of us share common challenges and dilemmas as we simply attempt to lead our lives as people of faith while loving whom we love.

Abby Haricombe joined IAM in 2018 as the organisation’s Administrator. She works, often behind the scenes, to keep IAM running smoothly. She started her humanitarian career at Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in 2013 as a fundraiser and enjoys working in the NGO sector as a way to contribute to a better society which focuses on inclusivity, diversity and uplifting the dignity of all human beings.

Born and bred in Cape Town, I started my career working with Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in 2013 as a fundraiser. I had followed the amazing work that MSF did worldwide for years and was lucky enough to start my humanitarian work with the organisation. The biggest challenge of my work as a fundraiser was to motivate South African donors to invest in MSF’s work – most of the projects were supporting people affected by wars, epidemics and natural disasters, things that felt foreign and far removed from the average South African’s lives. Part of my job was to help people understand the urgency of donating to a cause that doesn’t benefit the people of South Africa or their local community directly. I can see many parallels with the work that IAM does. While we are working on issues that do indeed affect us in South Africa, for many people outside the LGBTI community the issues do not feel as tangible or as urgent as other issues might. The consequences of the church and society’s lack of inclusion of LGBTI people aren’t always visible, so they can be more easily dismissed.

I am passionate about working within the NGO sector, and am happy to have had the opportunity to start working with IAM in 2018. Alida (IAM’s Financial Administrator) and I are like the engine of the organisation – we help the programmes run. I see to all administrative duties, which ranges from making sure the programme staff have the resources they need to conduct trainings, arranging meetings, and so much more – we generally troubleshoot any issues that arise and help the team to carry out their work as seamlessly as possible.

The work that the team here at IAM does resonates strongly with my personal beliefs. I have friends and family that are gay, and I see how they get treated. It infuriates me when these good, kindhearted people that I love get put into the category of criminals. It infuriates me that innocent kids are being bullied to the point of suicide because of homophobia. To this day I just can’t wrap my head around this way of thinking. I am a believer in Jesus Christ and strongly believe that his love is freely available to all. And it saddens me that there are people out there creating this image of merciless God that has no room in His heart for LGBTI people.

What I love most about IAM is our courageous team going into different, often difficult spaces to try and change that misconception of a God and church without space for the LGBTI community or others who are different. Since working with IAM I have become even more aware of the struggles that LGBTI people face on a daily basis and when the opportunity arises I am quick to defend the rights of LGBTI people when in the presence of homophobes, I find that ignorance is the main reason for the so called “fear” of LGBTI people. In our family I try and instill a true belief in equality in my three children, teaching them to respect and show Christ-like love towards everyone, despite race, religion, sexual orientation or personal beliefs or status. The message in our family is simple: The way you treat the man in a fancy suit, should be the same way you treat a homeless man. Everyone deserves the same dignity.