01 Jan

As 2016 wanes Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Fund shares stories from two of the people who are depending on us to help them escape from Uganda

This is “ViW” – his picture was altered by Friends Ugandan Safe Transport to protect his identity.

This is “ViW” – his picture was altered by Friends Ugandan Safe Transport to protect his identity.

Am 25yrs young and I can say am a refugee in my own country.

Ever since I was outted as a gay man I haven’t had any kind of peace, living in hiding and constant fear of being lynched since most of my countrymen believe homosexuality is evil, a curse and dangerous.

In my country, due to primitiveness and imported homophobia it is not a safe place for an exposed gay man. Chances are high that you are likely to be killed by your own mother because of your sexuality. The only family one has here is a very gay person or a straight ally. There is nothing like people will mind their own business when it comes to homosexuality, people will mind you and the only way they want to deal with their own fears is by killing you.

We are left with no option but to flee Uganda to go and seek refuge in a less homophobic country.

Where we are hiding its not safe. Anytime anything can happen.

Am appealing to anybody who comes across this message to find it in his or her heart to help us flee Uganda.

Blessings
ViW
—-

This is “ChaL” – his picture was altered by Friends Ugandan Safe Transport to protect his identity.

This is “ChaL” – his picture was altered by Friends Ugandan Safe Transport to protect his identity.

The Kill Gay Law (Anti – Homosexuality Bill) here in Uganda was grounded by the Uganda Constitutional Court but it wasn’t grounded in the hearts and minds of many Ugandan Citizens.

Let me tell you something, there isn’t so much rule of law in Uganda after all. You will be surprised to learn that very few cases of abuse, death, attacks and hate against LGBTq make it to the media.

There is a lot of negative reporting when a case makes it to the press. Still be reminded that only cases from urban centers can get to any form of news reporting. It’s clear and a honest mark out that there is a lot of state sponsored homophobia in Uganda.

There is a lot of negative reporting when a case makes it to the press. Still be reminded that only cases from urban centers can get to any form of news reporting. It’s clear and a honest mark out that there is a lot of state sponsored homophobia in Uganda.

Not long ago it was known all over the University that am gay and am wanted by the police.

I just want to get out of here. Am broke and helpless I pray that this letter gets out there and somebody knows what’s happening so they can contribute so that I may flee Uganda.

I just need help.

ChaL

Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Fund needs your help to fund the safe transport of ViW and ChaL and many other passengers in hiding out of Uganda.

Right now, the Ugandan conductors owe a debt of $10,472.00 to transporters for getting people out of Uganda in emergency situations. This debt must be repaid so they can continue their work.

One of our Meeting’s members is owed $4439.00 which was loaned in three separate situations when there were emergency situations. And our FUST project owes a debt to our Meeting of another $337.90.

They are all emergency situations – but some are far more urgent and dangerous than others and so debts have grown – but people’s lives have been saved!

As of tonight, New Year’s Eve – 12/31/2016, FUST has supported the Ugandan conductors to help 1,855 individuals escape from Uganda: 1,841 LGBTQ adults, six straight allies, and eight children.

We can’t do it without you.
Please make an end of year donation — or a new year donation as soon as possible, and share this with others.

You can donate online here:

Thank you,
Gabi Clayton
for Olympia Friends Meeting’s Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Fund

05 Dec

MaK’s and F’s Stories – Shared with Friends Ugandan Safe Transport

MaK’s Story

Though my papers read M, I know that’s not me! I am MaK! I was born in a wrong body. That was easy to say not knowing the trouble ahead.

At first it was my family, when dad questioned that why am I behaving and walking like a girl. Dad gave mom serious instruction on how to raise me as a boy, I received a lot of beating and punishment every time the woman in me came out. 

mak-fustsnapshot

This is “MaK” – her picture was altered by Friends Ugandan Safe Transport to protect her identity.

I was even taken to only boys’ boarding school so that I grow up as a man. This really affected my growth and social life. Things only changed when I went into University far away from home and I accepted myself as a woman. This new earned freedom has not lasted really long. The Christian strictness of this University quickly targeted me and I was identified as a Transgender. The news made it to university gossip groups. I was attacked twice in the bathroom by haters and before I knew it the University suspended me.

Going back home wasn’t something I can even imagine. I just realized that I need a helping hand to help me go into another country where I can live as MaK not M. The only criminal act I have committed is being me. My community wants me to live a life which isn’t mine. Yes my biology says am a man but inside me I am a woman.

Transwomen and Transmen are high targets for the haters of the LGBTQ people. There is no compromise whatsoever, people are happy to save you by only killing you.

I rather die than live as a man.

I can’t imagine how being a woman can bother somebody so much. The world was given to us free and we make choices as long as they don’t affect another people. Why can’t I just be ignored?

My only way out is to flee. I have been dreams I want to be a designer and make fashions which bring on diversity.

Help me get out of here and I rebuild my life from another country.
MaK

F’s Story

All my life I had wanted to become a priest in our Catholic Church. To become a Reverend Father is a big dream for millions here in Uganda. It’s a long journey and a painful sacrifice. It’s something which starts right from high school. I joined the Seminary with love and lots of joy. I knew what it takes and I was ready. I did all I was supposed to do and last year I became a full Deacon. I had only this year and I was going to be ordained as a Father, last December I even dreamed that I am Fr. F.

However I should tell you that I have had a big secret and a few of my acquaintances – brother J & brother L – we are gay.

lxfxj-fustsnapshot

This is F with J and L. Their pictures were altered by Friends Ugandan Safe Transport to protect their identities.

We had become so used to each other and sometimes we weren’t careful enough to keep our secrets closed. This year we were investigated and the Vocational Director ordered for our immediate suspension. This also comes with being exposed. I don’t want to apportion blames now but the dream came down just like that.

Am now battling for survival and racing against time to get out of Uganda.

I want to try and start a new life as an open and out Gay man. Am still a Christian and I choose to serve God.

Every Blessings +
F

Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Fund needs your help to fund the safe transport of MaK and F and the 120 other passengers in hiding out of Uganda.

We can’t do it without you.

Every dollar helps.

You can make a donation online here:

Thank you,
Gabi Clayton and Kathleen O’Shaunessy
for Olympia Friends Meeting’s Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Fund
21 Oct

They have to leave as soon as yesterday. Help so we can get a miracle tonight.

Message from H, one of the conductors doing the work in Uganda that Friends Ugandan Safe Transport funds:

fust-ugandanflag-lgbt-flagTo the eyes of the world, the kill gay law (anti-gay law) is dead and forgotten but to some of us who volunteer at the grassroots it’s active and fully in function.

Over 92% of the news which happens in the rural or semi urban poor communities never make it to the media and when it so happens the big media houses are not interested of course.

It’s only a high profile and internationally known gay who will attract international media centers. But the ones who suffer the daily oppression and struggles are in the closet gays living in smaller communities. Take examples of many young lgbti being threatened with death in many up country universities and seminaries.

I must save the details because of security concerns but we have 41 gay students from a religious institution and 19 transgender students from a university in hiding who are the most urgent cases we have waiting with us for funds to pay for their escape. They are in an extremely dangerous situation and they have to leave as soon as yesterday.

Help so we can get a miracle tonight.

Am crying, knowing I have no way out. This reminds of the recent deaths of 4. Why why why…knowing u are helpless and somebody is likely to be killed because you failed to help just in time can be so heart breaking…. anyways this is all I can write now.

thx, h


Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Fund needs your help to fund these sixty passengers who are in extreme danger. It will cost $55.00 each to transport them out of Uganda.

We can’t do it without you.

Every dollar helps.

Please make a donation so we can send it to conductor H who puts his life on the line every day to help get others to safety.


More info on donations here.
Thank you,
Gabi Clayton
for Olympia Friends Meeting’s Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Fund
27 Sep

EMERGENCY! SIX GAY UGANDAN PRESIDENTIAL GUARDS IN DANGER AND NEED OUR AID TO FLEE!

This story and plea was passed on to Friends Ugandan Safe Transport by one of the conductors we work with:

We are six men in all and all of us joined the elite special forces group shortly after graduating from university in 2009.

While at university, we belonged to the Q-Hearts an informal group that brings together lesbians, gays, bisexuals, Transgender.

We knew right from the onset of our conscription into the elite force that we were headed for tough times if our sexual orientation was discovered.

However, we had no option but to take up the rigorous training with a view to enjoy the perks that go with being in the elite force. Besides, employment is very scarce in our present times.

During orientation, we got a lecture that was specially aimed at bashing homosexuality as the most evil sin that any officer in the elite force would engage in. I and my five colleagues knew that we were in a very tricky situation and it was almost difficult for us to concentrate fully on the course.

Our training combined both theory and physicals which were very rigorous.

We successfully went through the training and on the day of passing out, one of the keynote speakers reiterated the earlier banishment of homosexuality.

Coincidentally, four of us were deployed at the presidential residence and we knew this was the most opportune moment for us to lighten up our love life. We really enjoyed our life at this station because unlike other army units, the presidential unit is a special force that has all the funds to make life comfortable for the force.

We spent two years from 2010 to 2011 at the presidential residence and we got joined together at an oil drilling site in Midwestern Uganda. Fortunately, we continued enjoying our consensual adult acts as and when chance warranted.

We didn’t spend long at this site and were moved to northern Uganda at the presidential state lodge where life was a little miserable for us. We were spied on by one curious colleague who later on confronted us by calling out our names and labeling us rogues. The fracas attracted other soldiers who wanted to know what was at stake. Our tormentor narrated to our platoon commander what offense he accused us of and on hearing that we were accused of homosexuality our commander lost his cool and ordered our immediate stripping. Our shirts were used to tie us to each other as we moved towards a small pond containing dirty water. We were commanded to dip ourselves in the pond and one soldier was under instructions to thoroughly whip us. The man whipping us also got tired and was nearly shot by our commander who enjoyed the whole thing from a distance but shouted insults at us.

thewhippinglastedlike30minutes

The whipping lasted like 30 minutes and the commander instructed that we be taken to the cells. Our commander was also on his phone and seemed to be communicating with someone apparently from Kampala.

We spent the night on a very ice cold floor without any slightest imagination of warm covering. At around 8 o’clock the following morning, we were summoned to the commander’s office where he told us that he was under a directive from headquarters to deliver us for further management. We surely knew that our lives were in danger considering the nature of crime we were facing and how we had previously been cautioned during training not to engage in homosexuality. However, our tormentors failed to understand that we didn’t choose to be homos but that’s exactly how we were created.

One of us lost his cool and confronted our commander who he accused of xenophobic mentality. This pricked the commander the wrong way and he almost pulled a trigger on the guy.

Another guy junior in rank talked to the commander to send the guys as fast as possible to headquarters as directed to diffuse any further confrontations.

The commander arranged a mini bus that drove us at terrific speed nonstop for four hours to headquarters.

We were ushered into a room where we were first and foremost served nice food typical of this elite force. We were also given packed juices. We were allowed to take a short guarded walk around the office for like five minutes. I think this was all done to ensure that all officers on the panel constituted to look through our cases were seated.

We were ushered into the room and we were shocked and nearly devastated when we sighted the guy who opened the can of worms seated in the far right end of the room scribbling something.

A female commander welcomed us and quickly told us that the reason we were in that room was for us to defend ourselves against accusations of homosexuality. One by one we presented our case but none of us denied our sexual orientation and this led to untold anger among the panel who perceived us as stubborn vagabonds. These were descriptions used on us.

Our confessions and unrelenting resilience hastened our verdict.

We were sent summarily to the cells where the torture continued, but this time not physical but emotional. We were, for instance, subjected to long hours of starvation and when food finally came it was either half cooked or even mixed with strange stuff.

This carried on for four consecutive days until last Friday when we together with the aid of one guy who we trained with mooted a plan to escape from incarceration. It was an uphill task considering the thorough defense at the headquarters. However, our partner in the escape crime spread the plan wider to involve more guys at vantage points where security checks would be difficult to beat. The whole plan was rightly patched together and the escape time was scheduled for 2 pm when guys were returning the huge utensils to the kitchen area, which was half a kilometer but very close to the gate.

We were aided to get uniforms and were freely cleared on all points until we reached the kitchen.

While at the kitchen, the head was already in the syndicate to have us escape unhindered.

We were now part of the group that was going to load firewood from somewhere we didn’t know. This was a golden opportunity for us to escape. It was planned that we would each excuse ourselves like we were going to shops and disappear. When we reached the small town where the firewood was we excused ourselves to go and buy some things we needed and that’s how we vanished.

We knew as we scampered the risk ahead of us until we got to a small bush where we changed into plain clothes and discarded the army uniforms for fear that the elite force uniform attracts a lot of attention.

One of our own had a brother who was expelled from seminary one year ago and was helped by a local contact whose number had shared.

On pondering the next move, he contacted the contact who was scared too much that he first hung up. He really feared at first thinking he was being made up for his previous role in moving persecuted people to safety.

On the second call we explained ourselves more convincingly by referring him to that particular man he helped move. And also letting him know that that’s how we got his phone contact.

He has hidden us in three difference places but we are not safe at all as we are sure that our escape must have made heads roll. So convincingly a hunt must be on, and we are making a passionate appeal to have our contact facilitated to have us moved at the earliest possible time.

Our case is unique because it borders on national security as well as the perceived magnitude of the offense in the force.

Dear compassionate supporters, come out in droves to help us retain our dear lives. We are threatened and God forbid if we are apprehended we may be finished as in written off the surface of the earth.

We know you have done it for other people, please do it for us as well.

All our safety and trust is at the moment vested in the hands of supporters.

##

Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Fund needs your help to fund these six gay men in extreme danger. It will cost $1,132.20 USD to transport them to safety.

We can’t do it without you for them and for others in hiding.  Please make a donation to support the work of Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Fund so we can send it to the conductor who can get them out of Uganda.

Please make a donation to Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Fund.

02 Sep

Esther’s Story: My Only Crime Was Love

I am called Esther Mugasha. 26 yrs old currently living in South Africa as a refugee, I fled from Uganda in June 2014 with a sizeable number of fellow lesbians and gays who believed in the search for freedom and safety.

I was born and raised in and around Lugazi in Mukono with a single mother. Life threw at us all sorts of challenges but through education and hard work I managed to become a chef at a big hotel in Mukono.

But all my life I kept a big secret from almost everybody apart from my girlfriend with whom I was in a relationship. We stayed in this relationship till the Kill gay bill was passed in parliament. For some reasons I can’t really tell, she decided to move to the city as a way of dealing with the breakup. After several months without contact, I decided to reach out to other people who might know her whereabouts only to learn that she took her life. This was so heartbreaking and I thought I was the reason she committed suicide. Somehow without thinking straight I decided to talk to open up to some people on what I was going through. Little did I know that this was the beginning of another horrifying and terror chapter in my life. One of the people I opened up to was my own mother; she immediately went mad and called a clan meeting so that a ritual rape ceremony was organized to heal me of my lesbianism. This wasn’t something I could allow; I couldn’t participate in such a dehumanizing ceremony.

EstherMugasha-quoteforFUSTF

 

When I didn’t turn up for the ritual event, my mother became my No.1 enemy, she even started haunting me. She tried another approach of taking me to the Bishop of Lugazi to pray for me, of which I told her that mom I am fine and I was born like that. That’s when she disowned me.

Through a workmate my mother tried to poison me with rat killer chemicals, I survived after spending months in hospital, even when it became known that somebody wanted to kill me, nobody was interested in pressing charges when I realized that I wouldn’t be believed and I had so many enemies, my employers weren’t willing to keep me in the job because I was a “disgrace” to them. When my landlord ordered me off the rental house I had, I decided to run.

Because I was living a very closed private life, I found it hard to get support, nor did I have any knowledge on how to escape from Uganda before I was arrested. I must say I was lucky because a few clicks online I got in touch with a support Organization and FUSTF paid for my safe escaping from Uganda.

Settling here hasn’t been easy but it’s better than Uganda. Being gay in Uganda has a billion challenges, you don’t know what to expect, you don’t know who is following you, you don’t know why you are being stalked, everyone becomes a suspect that he or she has intentions to kill you. Nobody minds me here, I have gotten opportunities for further studies and working. I have started my life all over again.

I am happy and impressed with FUSTF [Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Fund] and how they operate, so safe and all they need is you to be out of danger. Such high level organization and ability to respond to the crying and dying puts a big smile on my face. Through our networks they have saved lives, helped many like us leave Uganda and start a new life. I have learnt that simple means can really change lives around.

The only crime I committed was to love the one I wanted because we were born this way, many in Uganda judged me and my love was only saved because FUSTF was willing to listen and respond on time.

Thanks once again.
Esther


The work continues! Please make a donation to support the work of Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Fund to help other people like Esther.  Between the conductors, today there are 44 LGBT people in hiding, waiting for us to raise the funds to pay for their transportation out of Uganda.

Please make a donation to Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Fund.

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!

03 May

Snapshots – Seven Updates from Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Passengers

Snapshot: YK - Friends Ugandan Safe Transport

Snapshot: YK – Friends Ugandan Safe Transport

For now just call me YK. I love telling my story in a more simple way. What I know I was born a lesbian, never been attracted to the opposite sex, I love girls and girls. Yes  I was born this way. Besides my sexual orientation there is more to me, I am good sports woman, I love dancing and its through these two hobbies that I earn a living here in Nairobi. Oh why did I leave Uganda??? Honestly I didn’t leave Uganda, I run, I just escaped thanks to the friends in US who run a safe transport underground rail program for gays and lesbians in danger. We came in a group of 52 and by mid of Aug last year I had already gotten a job and a place to stay. Am a hard working one and life is looking good. I forgot to tell you, I can’t return back to Uganda even if the situation changes, those guys just wanted me dead. Am working on my papers and I am hoping to seek refuge in the Netherlands. Cheers YK

 

FUSTstories-Viva

Snapshot: Viva – Friends Ugandan Safe Transport

Greetings from  Poland, this is your home gal Viva, its has been long since we last communicated. Settling here in Poland hasn’t been so easy especially because of the language barrier but am learning Polish slowly and this will open up new opportunities for me. Am getting used to the food and the Polish life style. Never the less am grateful to you guys especially FNUR for having saved my life to help me escape from Uganda. Thanks Viva

 

Snapshot: Jojo - Friends Ugandan Safe Transport

Snapshot: Jojo – Friends Ugandan Safe Transport

 

 

 

Most of my friends call me Jojo and I don’t mind the name. I just wana thank Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Fund for all the sacrifices they make to save as many as possible the fleeing LGBTq from Uganda. As a beneficiary of the program, I will be forever grateful. Finally am settled here in Kigali Rwanda.

 

 

Snapshot: Flashee - Friends Ugandan Safe Transport

Snapshot: Flashee – Friends Ugandan Safe Transport

 

Hey, I felt  I should write down something to just say thanks to all those donors and friends of the Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Fund. Your work is priceless and to the thousand plus who have benefited from this arrangement you mean the world to us. Am an orphan who never saw my dad or mom, I was picked from the streets and I grew up from the Orphanage. This was an Orphanage managed and run by hardcore born again Christians, by the age of 18 they started noticing that I wasn’t straight, despite the rainfall like prayers which lasted for more than 9 months, nothing changed, they asked me out and even exposed me, one time I was attacked on the streets in Mbale, that’s when I learnt that my life is in danger. I sought for help and I was helped to escape from Mbale and am settled here in Kigali. Thanks everybody, Flashee

 

Snapshot: Dell - Friends Ugandan Safe Transport

Snapshot: Dell – Friends Ugandan Safe Transport

 

Am called Dell, one of the girls who left Uganda in 2014 after being exposed in the local news papers about our gay lives. After leaving Uganda I stay in Kenya for 6 months then an opportunity came where I could get a job in the UAE. Though they aren’t gay friendly they hardly mind we black Africans. I stay with my girlfriend and we are working hard. In the next 5 years we plan to go and live in Sweden. Thanks Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Fund.

 

Snapshot: CD - Friends Ugandan Safe Transport

Snapshot: CD – Friends Ugandan Safe Transport

Hello friends,
Greetings from Bujumbura here in Burundi. Times have been a little too hard lately but the situation has cooled down and life is back to normal. I settled here in Burundi after escaping from the dangers of life I encountered daily in Uganda. When one isn’t “straight” in Uganda you face countless challenges everyday. Though one can stand all the pain day in day out but when you are exposed it’s the end, chances are high that one can even be killed. As a lesbian whose family refused to accept me as I was, they wanted to force me into marriage to a man fit to be my grandfather. So when I heard of a program of Friends Uganda Safe Transport Fund, I decided to request for immediate support. I was dully assessed and they verified my claims, and after 3 months of waiting I was contacted that we are good to go. We were kept in hiding for 2 weeks and where one of the passengers took his life because he was over stressed and he thought that the mission had failed. Luckily among all the 46 passengers, us the 45 made it safely without so much struggles. It took me another 6 months before I could finally settle here in Burundi. I love music and am working on a couple of rights and freedom songs with a celebrated producer. Watch this space.
Thanks
CD

 

Snapshot: OK - Friends Ugandan Safe Transport

Snapshot: OK – Friends Ugandan Safe Transport

Hi, I send you greetings from Kigali Rwanda, am called Oliver Kawempala. Am a medical student here. I left Uganda in 2014 with the funding from FNUR. Thanks so much for having saved my life. I hate speaking about what happened to me while in Uganda because as a lesbian I went through a lot. My heart is healing piece by piece.

 


Right now there are 75 passengers in hiding in the care of the FUST conductors, waiting for funds to get them out of Uganda. They are 14 gay men, 27 lesbian women, 27 transgender persons (17 F2M and 10 M2F), and 7 bisexual people (2 men and 4 women) – between 19 and 31 years old.

Please make a donation to Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Fund so we can support more people like YK, Viva, Jojo, Flashee, Dell, and CD out of Uganda.

11 Feb

Snapshots – Updates from Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Passengers

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.


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