14 Aug

Exposure In Tabloid Newspaper Places Ugandan LGBTIs To More Danger

HelloDaily-cover1Note from one of FUST’s Ugandan conductors:

“I want to tell you that a tabloid newspaper is exposing LGBTIs both in the corporate and other local celebrities in Uganda.  I got the papers yesterday.”

Gabi: “If you can translate we can share on our website.”

HelloDaily-cover2“It is in English. This exposure places LGBTIs in the corporate world to more danger just like the ones we have moved out .”

Click the images to see the covers larger.

 

Please make a donation so we can fund more LGBTQ people who are in hiding waiting for aid to get out of Uganda.

FUST-PayPalClick the button above to use PayPal or a credit or debit card.
Or to send a check see this page.

Thank you!

08 Aug

A Message from Rich: “I am among the lucky ones.”

Rich shared these photos and wrote:

Rich1

Rich2

 

“Yes I am among the lucky ones. I decided to share these pictures as an expression of the appreciation i feel in my heart for all the passengers Friends Ugandan Safe Transport has helped to get freedom. Look at me am lucky, happy and now more hopeful.”


Please donate to Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Fund so we can continue to help LGBTQ people like Rich leave the dangers they face in Uganda and find new lives in more welcoming countries.

FUST-PayPalClick the button to the left to use PayPal or a credit or debit card.
To send a check see this page.
Thank you!

03 Aug

Tina: “Hate, Discrimination and Fears Would Not Just Allow Us Be.”

Tina-Kim1Tina wrote:

“I fell in love with Kim at 19, we struggled to be together as a couple but hate, discrimination and fears would not just allow us be.

“Then we connected with an Organization which was working with Friends Ugandan Safe Transport. After 3 months of hiding we were finally able to leave Uganda in the dead of the night. On crossing the border I knew the long search for freedom was finally visible.

Tina-Kim2“Am grateful for the fearless transporter and a local coordinator who made us welcome once we left Uganda.

“My heart breaks for the many LGBTq who are still stuck or can’t leave Uganda. More Organizations like FUST should stand up and be counted for the good cause”

[fruitful_sep]

Please donate to Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Fund so we can continue to help people like Tina and Kim leave the dangers they face in Uganda and find new lives in more welcoming countries.

FUST-PayPal

 

Click the button to the left to use PayPal or a credit or debit card.

 

To send a check see this page.

Thank you!

29 Jul

Message From Charlie Who Made It Out of Uganda: “I was the happiest dude on earth.”

Charlie wrote:
CharlieR1

“I would like to pass on my regards and love to all and everybody who works, volunteers, donates and supports Friends Ugandan Safe Transport.”

CharlieR2

“To me FUST means love and they are the only reason am still alive. I was willing to take my life if I wasn’t helped out of Uganda.”

CharlieR3

“I don’t like using the word hate, but as long as the state sponsored homophobia is still alive in Uganda, I don’t like Uganda.”

“Gabi, I remember that message you sent through the coordinator confirming that we shall be leaving in the night. I was the happiest dude on earth.”

“I am settling in well here in Kigali and am happy thanks to u.”

[fruitful_sep]

Please donate to Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Fund so we can continue to help people like Charlie to leave the dangers they face in Uganda and find new lives in more welcoming countries.

FUST-PayPal

To send a check see this page.

Thank you!

06 Jun

“We Knew We Had to Flee Uganda!”

by Miranda (pictured)

At 36 years, one would imagine I almost had realized my career dreams and had overcome all the challenges I went through growing up in a very poor conservative catholic family.

This was not true as the jobs of 16 women including myself are no more as I narrate our ordeal.

We are a group of girl-friends, all lesbians, and were all working in the corporate world till just a couple of weeks ago when news spread like wildfire that we engage in what some people here in Uganda prefer to call “unnatural relationships”. All of us worked for the same institution, although we were spread in different branches across the country, including the head office.

Miranda-May2015No one would imagine that my employment at this prestigious multi-billion dollar corporation would come to an end the way it did. Considering that I was third in the hierarchy within the human resources department and also in charge of the several student interns, that would ordinarily give the impression that I would be treated differently, but this was not the case.

We are all well-educated and well-grounded in our careers, with the majority holding masters degrees. We are in that category of Ugandan society one would envy, considering the good jobs that we held and the attendant salary and fringe benefits that accompanied them.

One of the employees at the head office where I worked peeped into my computer. Apparently I had not signed out of my email when I stepped out for a snack that afternoon. We were seriously organizing a weekend retreat to Bulango Island and the email contained all the details about our outing. We had actually paired up the attendees and listed them by name because each has an intimate girl-friend.

One mistake we regret in our email exchanges was the straightforwardness we used since we trust each other and the group is closed. We did not at any time think that our private communication would get in the hands of a non-member. We were wrong on this and I feel guilty personally that my carelessness brought all the other 15 women to this big trouble.

Little did I know when I came back from a quick snack lunch that my email was read by an unauthorized person. I confidently sat down and went straight to my tasks.

Unfortunately the email that contained our private group conversations had been forwarded to our Deputy Executive Director who is a sworn and devout Catholic lady. Hardly had I sat on my desk for 40 minutes that I received a call from her. I did not even have the slightest imagination that there was anything wrong because I always had official interfaces with her.

On entering her office, I observed a tough facial expression which was unusual. I exchanged pleasantries and did not even hear her reciprocating. Hardly had I asked her the reason for her inviting me to her office than I heard a knock on the door. It was another woman in our group, but from the finance and administration department. I heard her calling our head of human resources department to come over and join us in this meeting.

Before the head of human resources came over, two other women also in our group entered the office.

Now the Deputy Executive Director invited us to the board room because her office was not spacious to accommodate the people that were in the meeting.

Inside the board room, the Deputy Executive Director informed us that she had information that we were engaging in relationships with fellow women. We spontaneously looked at each other in wonderment. She added that she was really angry at that information and saw no reason why we should continue working with the institution. She explained that our continuing at the institution would cause disrepute. She informed us that she knew there were another 12 women within the same institution but in different branches also engaged and belonging to the same group of friends. Up to that point, my mind was confused and I had hard thoughts as to who gave her our secrets.

The head of human resources sprung up and advised that she did not see any shortcut for us to jump out of our trouble without leaving our jobs. She gave us two options: one to resign, and the advantage of this alternative would be to move out without raising any eyebrows within and without the workplace, and the second one was to be sacked with disgrace.

We who worked at the head office knew the Deputy Executive Director as someone who did not have any kindness for LGBTs having at one time advocated for a special policy that outlaws them at the institution.

We four women listened for most of the meeting and only chipped in when we informed her that resigning was not what we had in our minds. We were determined to fight on, including engaging lawyers. However we were mistaken on this as the Deputy Executive Director informed us that she planned to call another meeting the following day in the afternoon with all culprits, including those from up-country branches..

We left her office and each one of us went back to our respective departments. We exchanged sms on phones about our dilemma and how we planned to go over it.

Before we left office in the evening, I received a phone call from a close friend from the procurement and logistics department informing me that she had been instructed to prepare herself for the following day’s meeting in which the topical discussion was going to be about women employees who are having intimate relationships with fellow women at the institution. She wanted to find out whether I knew about such a meeting. I attempted to feign ignorance about it, however, admitted that I had also been invited for the same.

The following day by 2 p.m., all had been set for the meeting, and 14 women had turned up who are my group members, with only 2 who we were informed were sick and could not travel. Five other heads of departments and the Deputy Executive Director were in attendance.

The Deputy Executive Director called the meeting to order and in no uncertain terms informed us that 14 women in the meeting are victims of the sacrilegious vice of homosexuality. She further said that she had received an email that contained plans and schedules of activities including parties, outings, and also mentions who is in love with whom. She reiterated what the head of human resources had mentioned in the last meeting – that the only safe way out of the bigger trouble was for us to resign instead of either being sacked or forcing the police to take action.

To cut the long story short, we had exchanges and at the end of the meeting the bosses had a clear wind of our intention not to resign.

On 12th May 2015, I received a call from the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) inviting me the following day by 9 a.m. to explain the activities of our group. Two other women had also been called. We were at the place on time and we were ushered into a room where we found two men and one woman waiting for us. The officers exchanged pleasantries with us and straight away one of them asked us to introduce ourselves and what we do. We obliged and the officers asked us how many women are in our group.

I frankly told them that we are 16 and are all in love. This meant we were eight couples. So the lady officer inquired whether we knew that according to the penal code it was illegal to be involve in an affair with a person of the same sex. She called it an unnatural relationship. We all kept quiet on this and she probed further. The whole interrogation lasted six solid hours with two 30-minutes intervals of break to relax and have a snack.

Little did we know that we were going to spend some days and nights inside jail cells. Toward 6 p.m., the meeting came to an end and the officer in charge thanked us for fully cooperating. We were told to follow the lady officer on our way out for further details and to our surprise when we reached another block, she handed us over to another lady officer who she told to keep us under key and lock.

At that time, we knew that our predicament had taken a new twist. We had to surrender our bags and all the valuables therein and also remove our shoes. All our items were recorded in a book. At 8 p.m. food was brought in but we didn’t feel like eating. We were terrified. None of our relatives knew where we were and we didn’t even want them to know.

The following day in the evening, 13 of our colleagues joined us in the cells and coincidentally five were brought to the same cells we were in and eight were put in other cells.

On the third day, we were all taken to a room and the officers we found there informed us that we are legally entitled to a free police bond and that we would all be released and must report to the unit at regular intervals. We felt a sigh of relief.

Bond papers were brought and we were informed that we should each have a surety. So we had to make calls to various relatives and friends to come over and stand surety for us.

So by 3 p.m., we were all free and had to think pretty fast about what our next move would be. We received tons of messages on our phones – some from sympathizers and others that were rebukes. One message that captivated my mind and also indicated that our lives were in danger was from a man reading thus “You bitch, how dare you share your fucking love with a fellow bitch. I will ensure that you get damn punished harshly for it”.

At that point I knew the Rubicon had been crossed and we had to think fast to avoid any likely harm – including but not limited to changing our places of abode. Three women and I moved in together in a single-roomed house and the rest also shared in groups of four in different locations around the city.

Fortunately through our contacts we got information that there was someone who could assist us to move out of the country. We got the phone contact and rang the person who informed us that he needed to also find out from his benefactors how funds would be organized to have the women move out.

We did not tell the person who coordinated our travel that we were 16 at first in fear that he would be overwhelmed. We thought it would be prudent for him to have us four move out first and then let him know that we have more colleagues in waiting.

Although we were salaried people we didn’t have much money with us.

FriendsUgandanSafeTransportFund-logo200x200pxWe are now excited that funds have been found to have us four leave.

We are making a passionate appeal for support to have 12 women in our group also move out to avoid the likely danger and harm to their lives.

We are very grateful to those fellow Ugandans who have helped us escape, and to Friends Ugandan Safe Transport that funded our movement out of the country.

Miranda
On behalf of the women who were sacked from work for their sexual orientation

—-

APPEAL

Now that Miranda, Naira, Laura & Jayne are out, the 12 women Miranda wrote about who are still in Uganda have been able to raise $840.00 of the $2220.00 needed to get them out of Uganda – at $185.00 each. There are also another 14 lesbian former students, bringing the total this conductor is helping to 26 women we need to raise a total of $3970.00.

We can do this with your help! Please make a donation!

Thank you!

12 May

“It’s Even Worse For Our Trans Brothers and Sisters” – A Story, An Update and An Appeal

  A message on 05/04/15 from a Ugandan leader/conductor:

FUST-11205158_761FUST-772957254945_3270916339711323945_nBelieve me you, with or without a working anti-gay law Uganda isn’t home to the gays. The locals take the law in their own hands to ensure that no known Ugandan is alive or living in peace. 

Many Ugandans think that if you are gay, you must be mental disturbed, evil, living with HIV/AIDS, a monster or a born criminal. The Ugandan government has done nothing to change the minds of people towards the gays. No wonder that several times when the gays are attacked, the law never takes its course. The gays have nowhere to run to in Uganda and all they can do is to flee the unforgiving treatment in Uganda.  

FUST-11072616_761772953921612_2476871507373939371_oIf you are gay and open within Uganda, you must be living in the city, having enough security, well connected locally and internationally, traveled and exposed, protected and well-off. That way, you won’t be attacked because the Ugandan government knows that if you are attacked the International community will pass the blame onto the Ugandan government for failure to protect you but even still, you must know where to hang or live. Still you are not free, you can’t walk the streets freely or even getting a rental can be so hard. Uganda isn’t welcoming or a home to the gays. 

It’s even so worse for our trans-brothers and sisters, a little mistake can expose them. Many trans people are living in hiding, can’t be free and every day they are at risk of being exposed, attacked and even killed. They live a life of total lack of access to opportunities.

FUST-11109251_761772930588281_6843649377880800404_nThat’s why when we opened our doors to help more transgenders flee, the number has been overwhelming. We have been having 38 transgenders on the waiting list in one month another 17 has begged and begged us to help them flee so they can start another life in another country.

We have 31 trans men and 24 trans women. It’s upon this background that am appealing to you to help us help our trans brothers and sisters flee.

Best regards  
H

A 05-12-15 Update:

After they were in hiding for well over a month and the situation was getting more and more critical for them, a transporter agreed to allow this conductor a short-term debt in order to move these 55 transgender people across a border to another country where they would be aided in finding new home countries to begin new lives.  So this conductor group in Uganda now owes the transporter $52 x 55 = $2,860.00, and there was already a debt of $1359.30 to him for others transported in emergencies. So they need us to raise $4,219.30 to pay off their debt.

Another conductor we work with – in another part of Uganda – has had 16 lesbian nursing students in hiding, and we are sending money to transport 4 of them today, leaving 12. So we need to raise $2,220.00 to transport them out of Uganda.

Please help!

Make a donation (CLICK HERE) to help us raise this current need of $6,439.30, and please spread the word about this important work!

As you may have noticed, we changed our name to Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Fund. And in just over a year we have been in existence we have funded the cost of transporting 1065 people out of Uganda. Please support us to do more. The need is great.

Thank you!

30 Apr

“Every day I cry for the thousands of queers who are still stuck in Uganda and can’t leave.”

A message from Meddie Mukasa, now living in Burundi:

“If anybody ignored the plight of the LGBTQ in Uganda, it could be a big mistake, in fact it will be like a crime against humanity. Every day I cry for the thousands of queers who are still stuck in Uganda and can’t leave. L, hope you are holding up good amidst challenges with almost no resources. Keep the faith and keep the hope.”

Meddie Mukasa in Burundi

“Are FNUR and the Quakers still helping? Those guys rock. I am forever grateful to them. I found new love and am enrolling for a course in Beauty and styling, you know my passion. I am sending out some pictures to show am still alive and that I made it safely from Kigali to Bujumbura.”

MeddieMukasa-inBurundi1
Meddie Mukasa in Burundi

 Please make a donation to support the work of the Ugandans who are helping people like Meddie Mukasa.

Thank you!

28 Apr

“I remember everything” – message from a Friends New Underground Railroad passenger

A message from Shantal Mulembe:

Shantal Mulembe

“Hey dude, tsup? Ope u r cool, i finally got a job, with a tel communication company. My immediate boss and all my workmates know that am a lesbian, nobody judges anybody here. They just don’t mind and expect the best from me when it comes to working. Am in customer care, sometimes am in the call center. Guys I can’t thank you enough. I know without FNUR and the loving Quakers, I could be long dead and maybe even forgotten. Shit was tight in Uganda, I remember everything and how we escaped in the dead of the night. I could like to share some of my recent pictures with you guys. See how happy I look. Am free and am making new friends. Since am a lesbian Uganda is no longer home”
– Shantal Mulembe

Shantal Mulembe2

 

Please donate to Friends New Underground Railroad so we can fund other LGBTQ people like Shantal. Thank you!

16 Apr

Our One Year Anniversary – Rejoice – and More Work!

Today (April 14th) is the one-year anniversary of the Friends New Underground Railroad.

Through the work of the courageous conductors – all African, both gay and straight – and your support, 1,004 LGBT individuals and endangered allies have now left Uganda and are in countries all around the world.

FriendsNewUndergroundRailroad-logo-200pxQuite frankly, we are stunned. None of us – neither the conductors without whom this work is impossible – nor Olympia Friends Meeting, the sponsors of the Railroad, had any idea that the need would be this great, or that you would be so generous. We are thankful, and humbled, by what we have been able to do together.

The most recent passengers have one of the most harrowing tales to tell. Twenty-seven left a hiding place after having been mobbed, sexually abused, raped, and beaten. They had been there for almost three months, virtually without food, little water, and absolutely no medical care – and tremendously frightened. One of the conductors finally moved them, but it was found that six of them had developed health difficulties so severe that they couldn’t initially complete the journey. We are now pleased to report that, after many trials and tribulations, all six are now out of Uganda, and in a hospital where their care is being paid for by a very generous benefactor.

But, sigh, work continues. We now have 16 lesbian college students who have escaped mob action.

They were able to contact one of the conductors and are now in deep hiding. They are very scared. It’s going to cost us $2,960.00 to get them all out, way more than we currently have. The conductor will break them up into groups, and, if all goes well, get them out in groups of three or four, as funds become available.

Please consider giving us an anniversary gift. It is rare that you will get to potentially save the life of someone under such direct threat, so do it now. Even small donations mount up – as we’ve learned this year.  Donate here.

And celebrate with us – you deserve it!

Gabi

09 Apr

“And no Hope.” A Plea from One of Our Conductors

I chatted with one of our conductors today. He wrote:

“I have 27 people to cross.
It is increasingly becoming dangerous.
The 27 people are Catholic students aged 20 to 35 from a seminary and a nun’s house.
They are 19 gay men, 4 lesbians, 1 transman and 3 transwomen.

“We are living in a small house.
One meal a day.
No lights.
No power.
And no Hope.

“So risky.
If there is a way u can help, please help. We need to get them out.”

Gabi:

“Did specific incidents or threats happen to them for them to run?”

Conductor:

“Mob justice before they connected with me.
Undressing the trans to check their genitals.
Rape attempts on the lesbians to cure them of lesbianism
Some have been assaulted physically.”

FriendsNewUndergroundRailroad-logo-200pxSo we need to raise $1404.00 to move these 27 people in hiding out of danger.

We also have another conductor who has five lesbian college students hiding in another rural part of Uganda whom we need to move. This will cost an additional $925.00.

So we need $2329.00 to fund the escape of these 32 LGBT people.

Please help us. Every donation – large and small – helps.

Donate here via PayPal:

PayPal-Donate2FriendsNewUndergroundRailroad

 

 

 

 

And here for information about sending a check.

Thank you!
Gabi Clayton
FNUR project manager