30 Jul

“Exclusive Interview with a Refugee: A Personal Story of Persecution and Dramatic Escape” and more

Big thank you to Greg Stemm for writing: Exclusive Interview with a Refugee: A Personal Story of Persecution and Dramatic Escape —  AND — Under the Rainbow: U.S. group helps LGBT Ugandans travel from hatred to hope — which is in part about the work of Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Fund. It is a wonderful article and it includes a lot of background information about why the work of FUST is so needed. I have them both linked here:

Exclusive Interview with a Refugee: A Personal Story of Persecution and Dramatic Escape

by Greg Stemm – July 14, 2016 – Watermark – Orlando, FL

RefugeeInterveiwAbstr

“Jane” is 34 years old and grew up gay in her native Uganda, enveloped by an atmosphere of hatred towards homosexuality. After years of persecution, she was smuggled out of Africa and resettled in Europe where she is making a new life for herself. Watermark is unable to use her real name or the country to which she has relocated. Revealing too much information could place her and those who helped her at risk.

Working together closely with Olympia Quaker Meeting, Watermark was able to secure an exclusive interview with “Jane.” What follows is her story in her own words:

Read the whole article: http://www.watermarkonline.com/2016/07/14/exclusive-interview-refugee-personal-story-persecution-dramatic-escape/

AND:

Under the Rainbow: U.S. group helps LGBT Ugandans travel from hatred to hope

by Greg Stemm – July 14, 2016 – Watermark – Orlando, FL

[Note, the graphic with that article says, “Under the Rainbow: Florida group helps LGBT Ugandans travel from hatred to hope” which is an error because we are a Washington State group.]

This is a story that will probably mortify most Americans. Uganda is a place where people are outted and then completely shunned by their families. Their names are read aloud in shame on the radio. They are fired from their jobs and evicted from their homes. Without access to living space, food or health care, many simply perish. Those that don’t can be subject to state-supported beatings, maiming or even death. The atmosphere of terror extends to the families of LGBTQ people, who can also face persecution. The stories remind one of the days of Jews in Nazi Germany.

But there is a beacon of hope in a small Quaker congregation that set out to make a difference. These dedicated individuals cautioned Watermark about what we say and how we say it; a misstep could endanger the lives of those they help and those still in Uganda who were their lifeline out.

Read the whole article: http://www.watermarkonline.com/2016/07/14/watermark-online-uganda-rainbow-railroad/


Please support the work of Friends Ugandan Safe Transport!

We have been offered a matching grant for up to $7000 through the summer, so if you donate now with a check or through PayPal your donation will be doubled.

We sure could use the funds. Between the conductors, today there are 37 LGBT people in hiding, waiting for us to raise the funds to pay for their transport out of Uganda.

Please make a donation to Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Fund.

Thanks!

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!

01 Jan

I thought FNUR had nobody on the waiting list to flee from Uganda, and then… an end of the year surprise and an appeal.

Friends New Underground Railroad just had two whole days where we thought we didn’t have any LGBT people in Uganda on the waiting list – i.e. waiting in hiding with conductors until there were funds to pay for transporting them out of the country to start their new lives.

Then we heard this morning that one of the conductors has 75 students in hiding. He sent us this to share:

Background Story to the 75

Dear friends,

As you might be already aware that we work in Uganda in the rural areas to serve the most at risk LGBTq persons. It should be put on record that on every special days and public holidays, opinion leaders, culture leaders, politicians, religious leaders, community leaders etc. get an opportunity to share their views on any current situation. When the parliament reinstated their will and support to get the HARDER Anti-Homosexuality Bill passed and signed into law, the leaders thought the parliament has wasted a lot of time in getting the job done. In fact the speaker of parliament wanted to get it passed before the Christmas break but there was no time.

It should be remembered that Uganda is going into general elections, and any member of parliament or leader who doesn’t openly support the anti-gay bill is likely to face serious challenges. Even to the ruling party (NRM) the bill is a powerful political tool which will help them get votes (at least some because they always steal votes after all).

It should also be noted that this bill has a lot of support all over the country, and to many villagers it’s their duty to fight, attack, kill, blackmail anybody suspected of being gay. Institutions are always threatened by leaders and administration to be closed, if they don’t out, expose and suspend any suspected gay persons.

So during the Christmas holidays leaders didn’t take any chances to lash out to the LGBTq persons, this sent waves of fear and panic among the LGBTq community and also the promise of the parliament to pass the bill and get signed into law before 14 Feb. 2015.

This is when some catholic schools and government institutions decided to out some students and expose them. Because most of them have been getting supplies like lubes, condoms, socialization, networking and are clients we work with, they ran to me for help. I worked with 5 local volunteers to verify each and every story, so those we judged as at extreme risk we accepted as our own as we pave for ways to get them out of Uganda. That’s how the 75 ended up at our hide out.

Thanks and best regards.
H


FriendsNewUndergroundRailroad-logo-200pxI asked for details and was sent the names and schools of these students. They range in age from 20 to 23 years old and include 3 transmen, 2 transwomen, 8 bisexual women, 5 bisexual men, and 62 gay and lesbian people.

In order for FNUR to pay for the transportation of these seventy-five young people who have recognized they must escape from the hatred, oppression and danger of their homeland to find a new home where they can truly pursue the possibilities where their dreams lead, WE NEED YOUR HELP.

And so, dear friends, we end this year with one more plea.

Please make a donation now.

Thank you and happy new year,
Gabi Clayton
FNUR manager

P.S. It was still 2014 in the US in Pacific Time when I posted this but it is marked Jan. 2015.

28 Dec

Looking Back Over 2014 – and ahead to 2015

December 27, 2014

Dear friends,

dovebranch-smIt was only last April when Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Fund [as Friends New Underground Railroad] was founded. It began when a couple of us heard from friends in Uganda – both gay and straight – that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) folks there were encountering grave threats to their lives and safety and the situation was getting worse because of the impact of the soon-to-be enacted anti-homosexuality law. People were being kicked out of their homes, fired from their employment, removed from colleges and universities, denied medical care at clinics and hospitals, pursued by mobs, beaten, and sometimes killed. While they understood the risk to their own lives and those of their families, our friends there were prepared, in the manner of the Underground Railroad which operated in the United States prior to the Civil War, to conduct people to safety in more welcoming countries.

After much reflection, several of us took this concern to Olympia Friends Meeting (Quakers) who adopted the effort to support the work of these brave Ugandans as their own project. While supported by seasoned activists with a broad range of experience, both in the U.S. and in Africa, quite frankly we had no idea at the time the full extent of the effort needed for what we had undertaken. We have had to learn as we go, and we continue building the road as we travel.OlympiaFriendsMeetingHouse-top

We have met so many courageous people since April and have made so many friends among people who joined us in making it possible for Ugandans who saw no other possibilities to leave and start new lives. As of today, we – with your support – have funded the passage of 715 people (including eight children and six straight allies, and 33 people who identify as transgender) to flee from Uganda to pursue better lives. Many of them are now in their final countries of destination – Canada, Sweden, Rwanda, South Africa, Norway, Denmark, South Africa, UAE, France, the Netherlands, Germany, and Ireland. And we are receiving their stories — and their thanks to you! You can find those stories on our website at http://friendsugandansafetransport.org/category/the-stories/

The Railroad has not been without its losses. We are still mourning the loss of our conductor Tony. Tony was pressed into service when his predecessor S. was beaten so badly he suffered intracranial hemorrhaging, a broken skull, and multiple rib contusions requiring a very difficult medical evacuation. We understand that S. is now in detention in Canada, awaiting a hearing on his request for permanent refugee/asylum status. Tony was a 35-year-old pharmacist with no experience in the matter of leading passengers to safety. But with his daring, great resolve, and a huge heart for people, in three months, working himself sick, he engineered the escape of almost 280 passengers, including five children. Returning from his last mission (which involved three of the children), Tony suffered a blood clot in his lung, which was traveling to his heart. He was operated on successfully, but when he returned to the ward, it was found that he had been doing all of with work with the Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Fund while suffering from malaria, typhoid, active tuberculosis, worms, bacterial dysentery, and severe malnutrition. Tony’s spirit, we would like to believe, continues to animate everything we do.

Over the course of eight months, we have had two conductors die, and two others beaten severely, who are still recovering from their injuries. Amazing to us, none of our passengers have been lost in the course of their being led to safety.

Our work is, sadly, far from over. The Ugandan Parliament is very close to voting on a new Anti-Homosexuality Bill, one even worse than the last. Among other provisions, those who house, feed, transport, or assist gay people in any way can be subject to up to 10 years in prison.

FriendsNewUndergroundRailroad-logo-200pxFriends Ugandan Safe Transport Fund is operated by Africans for Africans. Our role is to tell their stories and to raise funds to support them in the brave and remarkable tasks they have taken on for LGBT Ugandans.

Each escape costs us between $55 and $185, depending on route, mode of transportation, and interim destination. There have been some other expenses such as medical care and temporary lodging while passengers wait to cross into other countries.
So not to sugarcoat it: we need your continuing support. Yes, we need cash – and every little bit helps! Not one penny and not one Ugandan shilling has gone to our personal expenses or those of our conductors – we are all volunteers.

We know many of you have already donated. We hope you will again and we hope you will let your family, your friends and your colleagues know how much we need their support as well.

We need the opportunity to tell our story in your community – in LGBT groups, churches, meetings, synagogues, civic organizations – either in person, or via Skype. We need contact with your local media, your local newspaper or NPR or community radio affiliate. We need you to tell your family, friends, and neighbors about us. And we need your prayers and good thoughts.

So now you know what needs to be done. We and these brave conductors will keep plowing ahead in the New Year – the rest is up to you.

Please make a donation with the form below, or if you prefer to contribute (one time or monthly) on-line via PayPal or with a credit card, visit http://friendsugandansafetransport.org/donate/

With gratitude,
Gabi Clayton
Manager, Friends New Underground Railroad
Olympia Friends Meeting
3201 Boston Harbor Road NE; Olympia, WA 98506-2800 U.S.A.
Phone: 360 888-5291
Web: http://friendsugandansafetransport.org
Email: info@friendsugandansafetransport.org

Return this form with your donation to FNUR – Olympia Friends Meeting, 3201 Boston Harbor Road NE; Olympia, WA 98506:

_____ Enclosed is my contribution for $_____ via check.

Please make the check out to Olympia Friends Meeting and put “Railroad” in the memo line. All checks dated in 2014 will be tax-deductible in the 2014 tax year

Name ________________________________________________

Address ________________________________________________

City ______________________________

State ____________

Zip Code______________

Phone # __________________________

E-Mail _________________________________

_____ Contact me about a presentation in my community.

_____ I will keep you in my thoughts or prayers.

Contributions 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’s Employer Identification Number (EIN) is 94-3145171.

03 Dec

A letter to Friends New Underground Railroad’s wonderful supporters.

This is the letter we sent to FNUR’s donors today:

A letter to Friends New Underground Railroad’s wonderful supporters.

December 2, 2014

Dear friend,

It has been almost eight months since the Friends New Underground Railroad was founded. We have made so many friends all over the world since we began making it possible for LGBT folks in Uganda who were at great risk for their lives and safety, to leave, and start new lives.

As of today, we – and you – have helped 705 people leave Uganda (including eight children, six straight allies, and at least 33 people who identify as transgender). Many are now in their final countries of destination – Canada, Sweden, Rwanda, South Africa, Norway, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Germany, and Ireland. And we are receiving their stories – and their thanks – for you.

There is Evelyn, a skilled midwife, and a lesbian, raped by her future husband at the insistence of her family and community. He gave her HIV. She is now working at a private clinic in Rwanda. Read her story here:http://friendsnewundergroundrailroad.org/evelyn-kemiremba-27-settling-in-rwanda-november-2014/

There is Nandi, a bisexual high school chemistry teacher outed by her husband and chased by a mob. She had to leave without even the chance to hug her son. http://friendsnewundergroundrailroad.org/nandis-story-i-wasnt-a-given-chance-to-even-hug-my-son-in-rwanda-now-nov-2014/

There is Robert, also escaping from a mob, who was one of Friends New Underground Railroad’s very first passengers. He made it to France, fell in love, married and is now happily living in Oslo, Norway.http://friendsnewundergroundrailroad.org/am-robert-and-i-love-happy-endings-25th-november-2014-at-oslo-norway/

There is SM, with a long history of being sexually exploited, who is now a conductor, who has pledged “unto death” to rescue LGBT people from rioting mobs and move them on to safety.http://friendsnewundergroundrailroad.org/if-everybody-runs-away-who-is-going-to-help-others-the-story-of-sm-a-fnur-conductor-in-uganda/

There is J, wife of Friends New Underground Railroad’s former conductor Katende Sam – straight allies who had to flee with an hour’s notice with their three children with only what they could carry, after helping more than 80 people escape under the most dangerous of situations in which several beating and burning deaths had already occurred.http://friendsnewundergroundrailroad.org/js-story-letter-from-the-wife-of-a-former-fnur-conductor/ andhttp://friendsnewundergroundrailroad.org/statement-of-a-fnur-conductor-xxxxx-aka-katende-sam-mr/

Then there is CL, driven out of the university like so many others and forced to flee from mob violence, now resettled in South Africa.http://friendsnewundergroundrailroad.org/cls-story-living-in-the-jaws-of-death-because-of-our-sexual-orientation-and-an-appeal/ There are currently 10 more lesbian university students on the Friends New Underground Railroad’s waiting list.

There is Michael, one of the Friends New Underground Railroad’scourageous transporters who shares his story of being inspired and transformed by one of our first conductors (who lost a kidney after being beaten within an inch of his life). Michael has inspired his entire workforce to lend a hand even when other doors are slammed.http://friendsnewundergroundrailroad.org/testimony-from-michael-a-railroad-transporter/

The Railroad has not been without its losses. We are still in mourning the loss of our conductor Tony. Tony was pressed into service when his predecessor, S., was beaten so badly that he suffered intracranial hemorrhaging, a broken skull, and multiple rib contusions, requiring a very difficult medical evacuation. S. is now in detention in Canada, awaiting a hearing on his request for permanent refugee/asylum status. Tony was a 35-year-old pharmacist with, obviously, no experience in these matters, but daring, great resolve, and a huge heart for people. In three months, working himself sick, he engineered the escape of almost 280 passengers, including five children. Returning from his last mission (which involved three of the children), he suffered a blood clot in his lung, which was traveling to his heart. He was operated on successfully, but when he returned to the ward, it was found that he had been doing all of with work with the Friends New Underground Railroad while suffering from malaria, typhoid, active tuberculosis, worms, bacterial dysentery, and severe malnutrition. His spirit, we would like to believe, continues to animate everything we do.http://friendsnewundergroundrailroad.org/we-have-lost-tony-one-of-the-railroad-conductors-we-need-to-raise-money-for-his-burial-asap/

Our work is, sadly, far from over. The Ugandan Parliament is close to voting on a new Anti-Homosexuality Bill that we have heard will be even worse than the last. Among other provisions, those who house, feed, transport, or assist gay people in any way can be subject to up to 10 years in prison.

The Friends New Underground Railroad is operated by Africans for Africans. Our role is to tell their stories and to raise funds to support them doing the brave and remarkable tasks they have taken on for Ugandan people.

Each escape costs us between $55 and $185, depending on route, mode of transportation, and interim destination. There have been some other expenses such as medical care and temporary lodging while waiting to cross into other countries.

So not to sugarcoat it, we need your continuing support. 
Yes, we need money – and every little bit helps!
 Not one donated penny and not one Ugandan shilling has gone to our personal expenses or those of our conductors – we are all volunteers. And Olympia Friends Meeting (Quakers) doesn’t take a cut.

We know many of you have already donated. We hope you will again and we hope you will let your family, your friends, your neighbors and your colleagues know how much we need their support as well.

We need the opportunity to tell our story in your community – in LGBT groups, churches, meetings, synagogues, civic organizations – either in person, or via Skype. We need contact with your local media, your local newspaper or NPR or community radio affiliate. And we need your prayers and good thoughts.

So now you know what needs to be done. We and our brave conductors will keep plowing ahead – the rest is up to you.

Download this letter in pdf format which includes a form you can send with a check: 
http://friendsugandansafetransport.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/FriendsNewUndergroundRailroadFundraisingLetter-12-02-14.pdf

If you prefer to contribute (one time or monthly) on-line via PayPal, visit:
https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=MLJJ9UY5Z2NRS

Thank you!
Ubarikiwe! (“Be Blessed!” in Kishwahili),

Gabi Clayton, Manager
Friends New Underground Railroad


Please stay connected with Friends New Underground Railroad to get stories, news and more about our work.

Sign up for our E-news :
http://friendsnewundergroundrailroad.org/subscribe/

Like our page on Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/FriendsNewUndergroundRailroad

Follow us on Twitter:
https://twitter.com/FrNewUndergrRR

14 Sep

Article: Friends New Underground Railroad

Thank you to Friends Journal for writing this article about FNUR:

Friends New Underground Railroad
Friends Journal – by Staff – September 1, 2014

“Earlier this year a group of Quakers from Olympia (Wash.) Meeting started the Friends New Underground Railroad (FNUR), a project to help lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals living in Uganda leave the country in order to flee terrible persecution resulting from the passage of the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act.”

Read the article here:
http://www.friendsjournal.org/fnur/

10 Sep

Breaking the Silence – from a Ugandan Passenger

On 9/8/2014 1:27 AM, BI wrote:

Glory be to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Maybe the Mother Mary, Mother of God be on our side till the end of time. Through the works of FNUR who the Lord touched to be a blessings to our the marginalized I feel confident to state that am out of danger. I also bless —— which didn’t fail me and stood by my side till I arrived in Toronto ON Canada, though am still here at Seaton House Shelter. I know God will lead all through till am fully accepted and given a better status here in Canada. I find this country a darling, so welcoming and multiculture. People are friendly though am undergoing a lot of big cultural shocks. Am getting used to the food and Seaton House Shelter is so supportive when it comes to paper work. I have already gotten a legal aid lawyer, did my medicals and am yet to hear when I will be called to the immigration court.

When I joined the seminary, my dears were to serve the people at the pulpit, well all those dreams came to an end when we were outed, I had kept my orientation a top secret all my life but a mail I received from my ex boyfriend changed my life. My name was added on a long list of those suspected to be gay and we were closely watched.

When the Bishop opened his war on us the gay during the Easter Sunday message, the seminary directors didn’t take any chances we were suspended and police was called upon to investigate the matters.

It was time for us to run and hide, we are so blessed to have —— who came out to help us, I can’t really share so much details as I don’t have the authority to do so but we ended up in Kenya where we were welcomed and supported to leave.

Since it was hard to get asylum from Kenya, we used tricks and we were granted visitor’s visas to Canada, some of our friends were not so lucky because they were denied visas, miracles kept on happening and I was given a donated airticket (topped up with donated  airmiles)

When I arrived at Pearson International Airport I declared my self and I was detained at a facility for processing, 2 days later I was accepted at Seaton House Shelter.

The process of getting a protected person status and later on a permanent residence status is long and painful but atleast I feel safer here.

I will keep on updating you with everything and am forever grateful to FNUR and ——, the Canadian Embassy in Nairobi and the Canadian Federal Government.
God Bless you all and Mother Mary Pray for us

+BI … (GoodSpeed)


Right now there are 11 expelled university students in hiding and waiting for FNUR to raise the funds to get them out of Uganda. At a cost of $185.00 each to transport them we need to raise $2035.00. Please donate to support the work of the brave Ugandan conductors who are hoping to aid these passengers soon!


Addendum:

On Easter Sunday 2014, the Bishop of Jinja Charles Wamika used his sermon, which was broadcast widely on the radio, to attack LGBT people living in Uganda. He called on Catholic hospitals and clinics to refuse to treat known or suspected homosexuals, commanded parents to publicly renounce their LGBT children, and ordered Catholic schools, colleges, and universities to expel known or suspected lesbian and gay students.

( See this April 20, 2014 article: “Ugandan Catholic Easter Message Calls for Genocide of Gays” by Melanie Nathan for more background on the Bishop’s sermon.)

On that very day, the director of the seminary in Jinja expelled 22 seminarians, alerted their parents, and sent their names to the police chief in the area for further action. (Friends New Underground Railroad has copies of the order of expulsion, and a copy of a letter from the Police Chief to the director, with a copy to the Bishop, assuring them he would take action.)

The seminarians immediately went into hiding for fear of mob attack, and, with the courageous action of one of the Railroad’s conductors, made their way out of the country, eventually finding their way to several countries in Europe, and to Canada. IB was one of these seminarians.

FriendsNewUndergroundRailroad-logo-200px

10 Sep

We Have Received Photographs of the Buyende/Itukira Murders

Friends New Underground Railroad is now in possession of photographs from the site of the murder of six known or perceived-to-be gay, lesbian, and transgender people at the Itukira market in Buyende District, in eastern Uganda. The photos were taken the night after the killings. One of the bodies had been abandoned at crossroads in the area and was being picked up by the police. The photos are bloody and gruesome, and indicate that the individual had first been stoned, and then burned, as had been reported to FNUR by three independent people, and discussed in multiple reported radio reports including this one which we shared in a previous post.

“We will not be releasing the photographs,” emphasized FNUR co-manager Gabi Clayton. “We understand and appreciate the media’s interest in sensationalized visuals, but our paramount interest is in the safety of LGBT folks and their allies, many of whom are still in the area. Any linkage to the source of the photographs could prove deadly to the person who took them and possibly to others. We have been asked by the source of the photos not to release them at any cost, and we will honor that request.”

FNUR continues to receive reports of very heavy police presence in the area. Since the murders, conductors associated with the Underground Railroad worked to get 62 individuals from the area (58 LGBT and four straight allies who were in serious danger) to safety. With financial assistance from FNUR, 511 individuals have now managed to leave Uganda, with at least 281 settled in countries of final destination, including Sweden, Rwanda, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, South Africa, Norway, France, and Canada. With clearance from the Ugandan conductors, interviews and testimonies from those who felt compelled to leave Uganda are now being obtained and released.

“We still have people on our waiting list,” noted FNUR co-manager Talcott Broadhead. “The situation is still extremely dangerous in many places for LGBTQ individuals and their allies. We hope that LGBT and human rights groups in Kampala will continue the difficult work of fighting the re-enactment of a new, even stiffer anti-homosexuality law (which was reintroduced last week). But our passengers have found themselves in a position that, for their lives and safety, they simply can’t wait.”

Right now there are 11 expelled university students in hiding, waiting for funds to get them out of Uganda. At a cost of $185.00 each to transport them we need to raise $2035.00. Please donate to support the work of the brave Ugandan conductors who are hoping to aid these passengers soon!

FriendsNewUndergroundRailroad-logo-200px

10 Sep

Article: “Group’s goal: Help oppressed Ugandans”

by Don Underwood – Springfield News-Leader – September 2, 2014

“Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International has reacted by documenting the crimes against the LGBTQ community. In addition, the Unitarian Universalist Association at its recent General Assembly passed a resolution (http://www.uua.org/statements/uua-support-uganda-new-underground-railroad-safely-extract-lgbtq-people-persecution) calling upon UU members to support the FNUR, share information on the topic and support asylum seekers. …”

“… And, finally, you can join members of the First Unitarian Universalist Church (springfieldunitarians.org/) of Springfield at 12:30 p.m. Sept. 21. We will share information on the FNUR and discuss the issue during our monthly Soup/Salad and Social Action meeting. You are invited to join us.”

Don Underwood is a member of the Social Action Committee at First Unitarian Universalist Church of Springfield and a former News-Leader Opinion page editor.

Read his article in full here:
http://www.news-leader.com/story/opinion/contributors/2014/09/03/groups-goal-help-oppressed-ugandans/15004051/

10 Sep

Article: “Olympia Quakers support LGBT refugees from Uganda”

by Quincy Malesovas, Staff Writer
The Guilfordian – Guilford College – September 5, 2014

“One other obvious question that has been raised on the subject is whether the Olympia Friends are in over their heads or if it is even their place to try and help. ‘The challenges are great — theologically, practically, and culturally,’ said Max Carter, director of the Friends Center and campus ministry coordinator. ‘Friends have a history of ‘speaking truth to power,’ and those involved in the initiative will move forward guided by the example of others who have gone before and with the confidence that it is the right thing to do.’ FNUR seems to agree, having themselves been influenced by the Quakers working with the original Underground Railroad.”

Read the whole article here:
http://www.guilfordian.com/worldnation/2014/09/05/olympia-quakers-support-lgbt-refugees-from-uganda/