04 Apr

A ray of light from in the dark black skyline…

Note: This was sent to me from HM, a Ugandan conductor, on January 3rd and due to computer and other technical issues it was not posted then. My apologies.
— Gabi Clayton, FUST co-manager.

Chapter 2, Section 9 of the [US] Bill of Rights is clear. “Everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law.” This is an echo of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ratified in 1868. But the South African constitution goes a step farther. “Everyone is equal before the law” is defined in subsection 3as follows…

“The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, color, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth”

It took a man in the late Nelson Mandela to raise up clear and proud to be counted to build a constitution which doesn’t only look at gays as LGBT but as humans like any other who are supposed to be protected by law.

This is 2016, happy new year everybody but when I ask myself what are we celebrating as LGBT? Yes there are achievements I can see, I can see some steps, I can see a ray of light in the dark black skyline. Will it take another Mandela to have an Africa which looks at the gays as fellow humans? NO!! It takes you and me. 2015 had many challenges but for the strong and courageous like FUSTF formerly FNUR they never say never, they are the ray of light. They have given us so much hope and too thousands they know their work is priceless. Despite the criticism and setbacks yet with limited resources, they have accomplished what a million strong men just dream of. Thanks FUSTF.

I can proudly say that over 1000 individuals who identify as LGBT have been helped to get to another destination where they feel safe and wants to start a new life. Uganda might not be directly involved in state sponsored homophobia but still its not safe for the “uncelebrated” openly gay people. Thousands still continue to suffer in the darkness and silence. Small charities may not be having the financial base do this alone but FUSTF has not given up on them as it keeps on doing whatever it takes to help those in need to cross to safety. We shall be forever grateful.

It always given this big wide smile when I travel to different countries and I come across some of the passengers who have gotten freedom through the hands of FUSTF. I can see hope, I can lives being rebuilt and I see a future for many.

To the supporters of FUSTF thanks for that unconditional love you have shown to the Ugandan LGBT.

Yes I know the burden still ahead us is big and challenging but I have never been so hopeful than I am now that with FUSTF more is possible and yes we are proud of this program.

To the many LGBT who wish to leave and start a new life in another country, I know help is on the way, I know FUSTF is human in its operations and they really care about you.

Thanks and happy new year. HM

Download this as a PDF document here.

Between our Ugandan conductors there are 77 LGBTQ people in hiding waiting for funds to cover the cost of transporting them out of the country. Please help with a donation if you can.

Thank you!

11 Feb

Snapshots – Updates from Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Passengers

11 Jan

Save a Conductor’s Life! An Emergency Appeal From Friends Ugandan Safe Transport

Our “conductors” inside Uganda are the heart-and-soul of what we do. They are our heroes, finding ways for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people to escape Uganda where they are under direct threat – up to, and including, death.

The conductors hide them while waiting for funds to get them out of the country, feed them, sometimes provide for medical needs, and then find ingenious ways for them to cross the border to other countries where they pass them on to other groups that arrange for the passengers to have access to medical, housing, food, psychosocial, visa, and transportation support to their final destinations. To date, 1,302 LGBT folks and their allies have left Uganda with the help of these conductors, with a great number now in their countries of final destination all over the world.

During the short life of the Friends Ugandan Safe Transport two Ugandan conductors have died – one from beatings, and one from a multitude of health conditions, built up in the course of his relentless dedication to this dangerous work. Here is the story of Tony, one of our conductors who died in the service of his LGBT brothers and sisters. There are others who have very narrowly escaped death, and have suffered crippling injuries.

And now one of our most dedicated conductors is hospitalized with both typhoid fever and a very serious lung infection. The infection will require surgery, at a total cost of $1,805, and, frankly, at this moment, we don’t have it. We need to raise a minimum of $640 in the next 24 hours to keep him alive (we have someone working with the hospital to work out a payment plan.) And within the next two weeks, we need to raise it all.

This is our opportunity to help someone who has dedicated his very life to the service of others, at great risk. Let’s not let him down.

10 Jan

Intolerance And Hatred For Gays And Lesbians Now Synonymous With Catholic Seminaries And Colleges In Uganda

by “Conductor #1”

We know for a fact that Christian teachings compel humanity to be kind to one another through unconditional love; however, there is a paradigm shift in this doctrine on the part of the Catholic Church in Uganda which is apparently on a deliberate move to make life difficult or next to impossible for all who are openly gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.

There has been an upsurge in the number of gay men dismissed from seminaries. Recently 11 seminarians were dismissed from a seminary because they are gay for fear that they would “contaminate” others. However, what is surprising is that the dismissals were not formal by way of a letter. The victims say that the institution does not want to endanger its reputation and attract “noise” from activists by issuing dismissal letters, so they keep it as silent as possible as the victims suffer the humiliation and mental anguish of cutting their learning short.

One expelled seminarian tells of draconian rules that infringe on the liberties of the students. There is a rule that there is no close friendship allowed among seminarians. Lights are not switched off the entire night and, of course, there is no sharing of beds.

A number of students have been expelled from seminaries on the pretext that they were closely relating to one another. The administrators conducted investigations and found that the students engaged in ”unholy friendships”.

Eleven seminarians contacted me and with the help of the Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Fund I was able to get them out of Uganda, where they were then helped to countries of final destination all over the world.

The temporary accommodations for the victims as they await evacuation are always in shared double rooms that have very minimum amenities. It is a challenge to try to ensure the neighborhood doesn’t become suspicious while they await the chance to leave. On a number of occasions we have had to relocate as pressure mounts from the local community who view new residents with suspicion.

The movement of the seminarians has been done in batches as the funds from our supporters across the globe warrant. I am in direct contact with the folks at Friends Ugandan Safe Transport who coordinate the fundraising, but I decide the order in which folks are able to leave. As we speak now [when he wrote this in December] 10 have already been moved out of the country, and preparing to move to their final destinations.

Recently, I have also received nine women from a Catholic Church-founded college in western Uganda. The women, some of whom were in their final year of diploma study, were dismissed because the college administration investigated and found out that they engaged in “unnatural love”.

The fate of the women was so terrifying that they were not even able to retrieve their personal belongings. Unlike at the seminary where the dismissal process is done discreetly, at the college, it was done with the full knowledge of the entire college community. This attracted rage from other students who attempted an attack on the women. The women were saved by a passenger van driver who stopped at the signal of three girls by the roadside. The three had escaped a mob that was gradually building up. The mob was so angry that it became difficult to even discern what they were exactly shouting, except it was clear that they were to be attacked and beaten. No sooner had the three girls reached the passenger van terminal than their six colleagues joined them. It was then time for the women to plan very fast what their next move would be.

Staying in the college vicinity overnight was out of the question. The women could not make it to Kampala in one go and had to spend two nights in a town called Masaka.

It was while at Masaka that one of the women contacted her peer who had fled last year. All the women belonged to the Q-Hearts group whose membership of lesbian and bisexual women is widespread across the country in colleges and universities. The response from the former beneficiary of the evacuation is what eventually helped them contact me. They are now [in December] in hiding in two separate locations, awaiting the means to leave Uganda, and get on with their lives. Life in Uganda is now intolerable with their very lives at risk.

The women that have moved on praise the initiative of the Friends Ugandan Safe Transport who voluntarily raise funds from compassionate and kind-hearted people to support victims move to a safe country.


January 10, 2016 update: Conductor #1 now has 18 LGBT passengers with another 4 possibly joining them in hiding. They are waiting for funds from us to transport each person out of Uganda. It costs him $185 to get each person out of Uganda.

18 Dec

Rosa M: I was punished for loving the one I loved.

 

ROM-fustpassenger1

I am called Rosa M—-, 23yrs (but my friends call me ROM), because I was “born this way” and just different from the rest of the family members I was disowned at the age of 15yrs…. Reason!! I was a lesbian. To my father and mother this brought humiliation and shame to the family. To take you back, I was really loved by mother because I looked more like her late dad. That all came to an end when I innocently told my mother who I love. Hurriedly mother told my father about my sexual orientation and they organized a cleansing ceremony … okay call it ritual rape. The following weekend in the dead of the night, 6 energetic young men who had been selected pounced on me, they laughed as they took turns. I cried in pain and this gave them more gas to gruesomely rape me without any remorse. For almost 2 hours I cried and nobody cared what I was going through. I bled uncontrollably as they left me for dead. I was forced to drink some local herbs – and some herbs and ash was applied to my genitals to stop the bleeding. For almost 2 weeks I couldn’t walk but I survived and yes this didn’t change who I am and I was still attracted to fellow girls.

I weighed my options. Reporting the matter wasn’t going to change a thing. In fact it was like jumping from a frying pan to the fire.

I made a brave decision to take my life but something in me told me, why should I let the damn poor losers win because my mother wished me death. My father asked me to be straight or leave the village and the family home. I didn’t say a thing to him but before the sun rose the next morning I was 25 miles away from home, walking the dangerous jungles of the village. I made it to Mukono township, with little contacts or local knowledge I was on my own.

ROM-fustpassenger2b

Fast forward I started living a life of crime, prostitution and drugs. One of my clients in the drug business had a phone which had access to Internet, on Googling I learnt of LGBTq Organizations which offered services to gay people. This changed my life forever. One organization I won’t mention had the approach which fitted well with my needs and I asked to become their member/client. I was taken in and enrolled in different support programs, life started making meaning.

This peace was short lived by passing of the anti-gay bill, even before it was signed into law, the locals were taking matters in their own hands, attacking any suspected gay person, these days many always go unreported.

As hundreds of gays were struggling to get out of Uganda, the Quakers under the Friends Ugandan Safe Transport extended a loving hand and support to many of us. Am I am proud to have benefited from this program.

I am happy and yes, now life has a meaning. Thanks so much, FUST.


Please send a donation to support the work of Friends Ugandan Safe Transport so we can support the work of the amazing Ugandan conductors who help people like Rosa to escape the horror they face as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in Uganda.

For PayPal click this button:

FUST-PayPal

Sending a check? Go here: http://friendsugandansafetransport.org/donate/

Note:  Contributions to Friends New Underground Railroad through Olympia Monthly Meeting (Olympia Friends Meeting) are tax-deductible.  Olympia Monthly Meeting is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization.  Cash and non-cash contributions are tax deductible to the full extent of applicable law.  Our Employer Identification Number (EIN) is 94-3145171.

Thank you.

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”

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.”

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!

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!