08 Dec

Situation Critical for 119 LGBTQ Ugandans In Hiding with FUST – An Update, A Plea, A Story of Survival, and More

Right now, the conductors Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Fund works with have 119 LGBTQ Ugandans hiding in four secret locations, waiting for the funds needed to move them out of Uganda to safer countries in order to save them from extreme homophobic / transphobic violence and sometimes death.

It costs $75.00 for the conductors FUST supports to move each person, and so we are posting this update as a plea to those of you who can to make a donation and to share this with others.

Please help! They cannot do it without your financial support!

FUST is a project of Olympia Friends Meeting (Quakers) and contributions go through the Olympia Friends Meeting, earmarked for FUST. This means your donation is tax deductible. The fastest way is through this PayPal link: https://www.paypal.com/donate/?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=75NTGCGG66TDQ

or send a check to:

Olympia Friends Meeting
3201 Boston Harbor Road NE
Olympia, WA 98506

Be sure to put “FUST” or “Uganda” in the note on the check

For more information about your donation or about FUST, see:
http://friendsugandansafetransport.org/donate/

Here is a story of one of the passengers we were able to fund out of Uganda. She survives because of our donors.

Rape doesn’t cure lesbianism  –
Aisha Fatuma Lukoma 20 Years Old

Hello friends,

I wish to tell my story, not because am proud of what happened to me but rather to tell the world about the gruesome things happening to the gay community in Uganda. Maybe my story will speak to someone, somewhere. Maybe my story will cause the world to stand up and tell Uganda that enough is enough. Maybe this story will speak to Friends to understand that at least personally I really appreciate that they saved my life from the edge of death. Maybe this story will stand out, so that Friends know that they have done a lot not only for me but many others.

I was born on the 3 May 2000 in a non-religious family in Nyenga village, about 70 kilometers from Kampala, the capital of Uganda. Neither my father nor mother had any belief in education or western medicine. My father is a native witchdoctor and so polygamous, with eight wives and over 40 children.  Despite the many shortfalls and extreme abuses committed by my biological dad daily, he still commands a lot of respect in and around Nyenga village.

My father always insists that all his children should be married off at or before the age 18. However, when it came to me, things were different. I had not shown any interest in boys nor was I even attracted to boys. Shortly after my 14th birthday, my mother once asked me one evening after coming back from the water well why I only liked girls, I didn’t answer her but my sexuality was slowly growing. By the time I was 16, I knew I was not straight, despite my trying to force myself, and hiding. I realized I can never get attracted to boys or men. For fear of my tough ironman father, one day I had to pretend but this pretense affected so much that I even contemplated suicide. But I had a secret lover, a sweet 19-year-old Pauline who is still stuck and held up in Uganda. Pauline loves me and I keep the love on the daily despite the fact that fate separated us

So having failed my father from marrying me off before I turned 18, this June 2020 things started to change. My entire family wasn’t happy with my life style of a tomboy. My father and mother made some arrangements and they got for me a 65-year-old man from Kiyula Village. He was already old, married with grandchildren who were way older than me and also with children. My family arranged the bride price and dowry with the elderly man, actually I was just like being sold off, just like an item.

When the marriage was being arranged, the man whom I later learned was named Al-Haji Musa Karim Ssemukasa came to pay a visit and also take a look at his bride-to- be. He was disappointed. He told my father that Aisha has an evil spirit of sapphism or female homosexuality, and that my father should arrange a ritual ceremony to cleanse me of this evil spirit. What it actually means is that, a blood relative (most likely a young, healthy, strong man) of the man (Al-Haji) who is going to become my husband is appointed to do a ritual rape ceremony. It is done publicly before my paternal aunties and my elder sisters. The ceremony is always conducted at midnight.

Of course I objected to the entire arrangement, but I had limited choices. My father had earlier on threatened me with death. My movements were restricted, and I was beginning monitored 24/7. At around 11 p.m. on July 24th, 2020, I was pinned to the ground under the strict watchful eyes of four of my own family members, I was undressed and a young man held his genitals and he seemed like he was enjoying the fighting and the struggles I was putting in attempt to run away. Finally I was restrained and then I was gruesomely raped by 25-year-old Nasur. It was the most painful thing to ever happen to me, and  it left me bleeding and disabled, I could hardly walk and the ordeal was just beginning. I can’t remember much as I think I passed out because of the trauma. At around 2 a.m., I remember I was still forced to participate in the rest of the rituals, of bathing herbs, taking and eating moringa leaves and juice. For about a week, I was so helpless, and only receiving basic traditional herbs for treatment. I developed fistula and when this news got to the man who was supposed to marry me, it was a turn off and he came home demanding that the dowry and bride price he had earlier on be refunded. This made my family so desperate. They wanted me to recover so quickly so that they could at least have me taken by Al-Haji Musa. But things were not working out so well.

My mother came up with another plan, to reach out to organizations that work with victims of rape. I don’t know if I will ever forgive my own mother. After days of searching, she was directed to an organization in another town and, on reaching there, she lied to the organizational leaders that I had been raped by strangers. My mother even warned me that if I told the truth, that it was ritual rape, she would herself make sure that I died.

As I write this story, I have been told not to mention some personal names nor organizational names, so I might not share some specific details.

The organization with their shelter got for me some treatment and I received a procedure and they paid all the bills. After one month, I was going to be discharged but I faked another sickness, so that I don’t leave the hospital as I needed buy time to figure out how to flee. Somehow a strong outspoken women and leader at the organization which works with raped women and children noticed something wasn’t all right. She begged to have a word with me in private. She asked my mother and other relatives of mine who here around to step aside, I talked privately with her and I told her that I don’t want to go back home, that I was ritually raped, and the rape ceremony was organized by my family, and that my father would marry me off, immediately upon my leaving the hospital. My prolonged chat with this strong leader made my family members very uneasy, and before we knew it, they had fled the hospital premises. This made the strong woman realize that I was speaking the truth. With her little resources, she handled me over to another organization which specifically works with LGBTQi community.

Word got around that my family was looking for me and I knew that I was going to be killed if they ever found me. So I asked this other organization if there is any way I could leave Uganda. I wanted to leave the country because I knew I am not safe, just like that and I was also afraid that the strong woman who helped me was going to go after my family and I know how they love revenge.

Luckily, help came in from very unlikely sources, sources which I didn’t know existed. I was told, together with other people, that Friends (Quakers) in Olympia, Washington USA have organized some safe transport for us, I was so scared, as I didn’t know how this was going to work. Everything fell into place, and after two days and one night I was far, far away from my home village in another country.

I have been here for more than a month, and life is so different here, so different. I don’t have to live to anybody’s expectations, I don’t have to fake anything. Yes, though I still recovering I have gotten a full time job as a janitor. Everybody knows am a lesbian with a story and they just don’t care, it’s my life and it’s mine to make the best out of it. For the first time in my life, it’s more of like hakuna matata “no problem”.  

I wish to thank the Friends, you saved my life. And for the thousands still stranded in Uganda or who don’t know where to get help, stay strong, stay calm under fire and don’t lose hope, that hope of being free and the freedom which awaits you, Hope is all you have now.

Ritual Rape doesn’t heal lesbianism.

Share my story
Aisha

Police brutality: Activists demand ICASA boycott of Uganda
by Colin Stewart on November 23, 2020 – posted here includes:

Reports also indicate that President Museveni is alleged to have ‘blamed” the protests saying, “they were being funded and supported by homosexuals who do not want a stable Uganda.” This anti-gay rhetoric is not new to the President as he has been on record as saying similar, if not, instigating comments against LGBT persons.

From testimonies, including photos and videos circulating online, it’s clear that the current administration is bent on crushing opposition voices and presence while trampling human rights, including those which Uganda is a signatory to, on regional and global platforms.

15 Sep

Good (and bad) news from Uganda – an update – September 15, 2020

Good (and bad) news from Uganda. After months of backlog, everyone that Friends Ugandan Safe Transport had waiting is now out and safe! We can hardly believe it, and we have some debts, and we are sure there will be more, but at least we can have an interim celebration.

Except….

The conductor who worked on these rescues, after the last 20 got out, quite literally collapsed. He is in the hospital, diagnosed with BOTH bacterial meningitis and pneumonia!

Fortunately, both are treatable. We spoke with him, and after a rough week he is in surprisingly good spirits.

So FUST has medical bills! The only other thing we use FUST money for besides the direct transport costs is medical care for our conductors. For without them and their extraordinarily courageous work, there is no FUST. We have lost conductors previously, and do not want to lose one more.

Please consider giving generously. Funds can either go directly to the Olympia Friends Meeting earmarked FUST, or through the FUST PayPal account (which also goes through the Meeting.
See: http://friendsugandansafetransport.org/donate/

For the record, 2281 people are now out of harm’s way, transported out by brave transporters who are supported by funds donated to FUST.

12 Aug

Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Important Update 08-11-2020

by David Albert Aug 11, 2020

Dear Friends –

Eight members of Bulungi Tree Shade Friends Meeting were arrested by police in Kamuli, Uganda on “suspicion of homosexuality”. They were held for four days, during which time they were starved and tortured, and entirely traumatized.

A Bulungi Friends Meeting member and friend traveled to Kamuli, and, at great personal risk, remained in contact with the eight the entire time, while negotiating with a corrupt and criminal police force.

As horrible as the experience was, having them held for four days, rather than being bound over to the court, was a good thing, as they then would have been tortured for more information. (The torture they received was purely sadistic, and for no other purpose.)

After several days of intense negotiations, all eight were ransomed, and have been moved to another town. Antibiotics and painkillers have been purchased for them (and food provided.) They are still extremely traumatized.

Friends Ugandan Safe Transport would like to move them out of the country as quickly as possible, and a conductor is ready to do so. At their interim destination, there is housing, food, medical care, and counseling waiting for them.

The transport will cost $600. If folks would like to throw in a few bucks to help pay for the loan made to ransom these folks, that would be great too.

Contributions go through the Olympia Friends Meeting, earmarked for FUST.

Fastest way is through the PayPal link: https://www.paypal.com/donate/?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=75NTGCGG66TDQ

or send a check to:

Olympia Friends Meeting
3201 Boston Harbor Road NE
Olympia, WA 98506

Put “FUST” or “Uganda” in the note on the check

Please share this information.

Thank you!

Here is the story of a recent FUST passenger:

“Yes I can breathe”

by James Banawona – Age 27

I was born and raised in a very hostile family. My polygamous family never had any respect for women. My father’s primitive way of doing things has had very unforgiving results, which has left scars on many of his children. I never knew or saw any sign of love in our home. When I was 16, my mother noticed some gay behaviors in me. This didn’t go well with her. At our big home stead in Buwenge about 36 kilometers from Jinja, I was flogged by the entire family, I passed out and I only realized that I was at Jinja Main hospital after 4 days. I almost died, and to date I am disabled as my backbone moved out of position and one of my legs became shorter. I ended up spending almost 18 months in the hospital. As soon as I was able to support myself I escaped from the hospital, at the age of 17 and started a life on the streets of Jinja.

In 2011, I connected with an LGBTQ organization (which I won’t mention here) and they helped me complete high school and college and I was admitted at Kyambogo University for a Bachelors in Telecom Engineering. It’s a whole long story but I at least managed to complete my degree but of course not on time as the organization was also struggling financially.

Because of my sexual orientation, it was impossible to get a job in my field. I became depressed and that’s how I lost it. I became a drug addict as I had lost hope in life. I can’t even count the times I contemplated committing suicide.

Later in 2018, I started reconnecting with some people who had helped me in the past. I was introduced to a church-like setting, but unlike traditional churches, this was more of friends, friends coming together, without judging each other. Since late last year, the meetings became more persecuted and haunted so everything went underground. It’s through these meetings that I was able to be identified for safe transport.

Amidst the Covid 19 crisis, I was finally able to flee from Uganda thanks to the support of Quaker friends and the dedication plus courage of XX (the conductor), who did all it took so that we would leave the country and nobody was hurt.

I am happy that I can breathe now, I recently landed a juicy job in a telecom company!

Yes, I can breathe now

Thanks for loving me with true love in Light.