14 Apr

UPDATE: Our Latest Letter to Friends and Supporters of Friends Uganda Safe Transport

Below is our latest letter to friends and supporters of Friends Uganda Safe Transport. It should be noted that since the letter was sent, the number of passengers waiting for aid has changed. As of today, there are seven passengers and another four likely within days. ~ Gabi Clayton, April 14, 2017

March 18, 2017

Dear Friends and Supporters,

It has been several months since Friends Uganda Safe Transport (FUST) has communicated directly with you. We have had considerable activity in December and January.  One of the Ugandan conductors was jailed briefly, during which time he was physically and sexually assaulted.  He required emergency surgery and blood transfusions to save his life. We are pleased to report he is now recovering and is doing much better.  However, hospitals require payment up front and he had no money. FUST was able to raise these emergency funds primarily through the generosity of local Friends.  We did not use our regular contributions to fund this medical emergency.  As a result of focusing on this added need, our overall contributions have been down since the beginning of the year.

Your generous contributions of $165,870.81 have supported the safe transport of 1,859 LGBTQ passengers since we started this work on April 13, 2014.  The cost of safely transporting one person out of Uganda is between $55 and $185 depending on the distance from the Ugandan border.  We currently have 25 lesbian passengers in hiding awaiting transport. This group has been waiting for quite some time now and we are hopeful that we can raise the funds necessary to transport all of them soon.

As many of you know, this work is conducted and controlled by Ugandans for Ugandans.  The role of Olympia Friends Meeting’s FUST project is to provide the financial support that funds the conductors’ work.  To date, 14 countries have accepted LGBTQ Ugandan refugees.  We hope to add more.  We have the support of 29 Friends’ Monthly Meetings, two Yearly Meetings, several other faith communities, and many individual donors.  Your support and contributions allow us to continue this important work.

For new donors and those who have questions and would like to know more, we invite you to visit our website which provides background information, FAQs, updates and links to other relevant sites.  We also invite you to visit our blog at http://friendsugandansafetransport.org/blog and read the personal, heartfelt stories of some of the refugees you have helped be transported to safety.

We are most grateful and appreciative of your support and donations.  We hope you will continue to support FUST.

With warm regards,
Gabi Clayton and Kathleen O’Shaunessy
Co-managers of Friends Ugandan Safe Transport

Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Fund is a project of Olympia Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, a 501(c)(3) religious organization (tax identification number: #94=3145171). Donations to Olympia Friends Meeting are tax-deductible to the extent allowed under the Internal Revenue Code. No goods or services have been rendered.

Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Fund
Olympia Friends Meeting
3201 Boston Harbor Road NE
Olympia, WA 98506-2800 U.S.A.
Phone: (360) 888-5291
Web: http://friendsugandansafetrasport.org
Email: info@friendsugandansafetransport.org

To make a donation, go to http://friendsugandansafetransport.org/donate/
Thank you!

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

30 Nov

Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Update and Giving Tuesday

Dear friends and supporters of Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Fund,

Olympia Monthly Meeting (Quakers) created the “Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Fund” in 2014 to aid LGBTQ Ugandans who are fleeing their homeland for their lives and safety. We were given an opportunity to provide direct assistance and with your support, as of  today – 11/29/2016 – we have supported Ugandan conductors to help 1,815 individuals to escape from Uganda: 1,801 LGBTQ adults, six straight allies, and eight children.

Last week, Conductor #1 wrote:

“I recall D’s statement when we had just started that this work .
I wish funds could come and most of them are transported as a Christmas season gift.
I got the 8 lesbian women today and my total now is 15, all women. Likely to get more next week.

“We are only constrained by lack of adequate funding but the desire to help those persecuted is not about to wane.
We are not about to tire on this matter.
Innocent people are persecuted by ignorant people

“Gabi, we are doing all we can but can never fully help and bring to an end to this xenophobia. I thought it would be a one year event and we would be done. I was wrong on that. It’s like we have just started.

“My mentor D once commented that we are the transport business for a long haul. Truthfully this has come to pass.”

Then today he wrote:

“I have 15 lesbian women in waiting and am likely to get 24 more over the course of the next two weeks making it thirty-nine.”

And Conductor #2 wrote:

“My situation is I am a total volunteer who gave up everything to make sure that what we started with this keeps on going against all odds. I have seen friends and work mates die in the line of duty. I have seen volunteers give up. I have kissed death. I have been ignored and forgotten many times. I have no job or any sort of income. Any risk I take there is no insurance whatsoever. I have some people here but they are as equally poor like me though they have a heart to help.”

“By Ugandan law I am a criminal so I have to fake identity to live another day. It’s not a party here. Every day we live is a gift.”

If you plan to donate to nonprofits for today’s Giving Tuesday – or if you can make tomorrow  Giving Wednesday or any day you can, please consider a donation to Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Fund to help us fund the work of these brave amazing Ugandan conductors who are risking everything to save the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in their country.

To get the 39 lesbian passengers with Conductor #1 out of  Uganda, it will cost $185 each, so $7,215.00.

Conductor #2 has more passengers in hiding in their care but owes the transporter over $12,000.00 for getting hundreds of LGBT passengers out of Uganda when there were emergency situations and no funds to pay for them. The transporter must be paid back.

One of our Quaker members is owed $1,964 which was for another emergency situation. And we owe our Friends Meeting $438.80.

Every dollar counts!

Please DONATE at:
http://friendsugandansafetransport.org/donate/

Note: Contributions to Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Fund 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,
Gabi Clayton
for Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Fund

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!

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.

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!

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!

16 Apr

Our One Year Anniversary – Rejoice – and More Work!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And celebrate with us – you deserve it!

Gabi

09 Apr

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

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

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

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

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

Gabi:

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

Conductor:

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

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

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

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

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

Donate here via PayPal:

PayPal-Donate2FriendsNewUndergroundRailroad

 

 

 

 

And here for information about sending a check.

Thank you!
Gabi Clayton
FNUR project manager

20 Jan

Urgent! Thirty-six Ugandan Students Need Your Help!

There are now 34 Ugandan lesbians and two transwomen ages 20-25 in hiding. They were chased from different schools, colleges, universities and institutions. All of them are students – of nursing, education, tourism, social work and social administration.

FriendsNewUndergroundRailroad-logo-200pxAt least one of them was badly beaten and almost killed in an assault “by mean and heartless thugs.” They are all at risk of more assaults and worse until we can fund them getting out of the country.

Please help! We need to to raise the money to get them transported out of Uganda.

We need $1800 for transportation plus another $315 for lodging.

Can you make a donation today and help spread the word? 

Make a donation with PayPal here:

PayPal-Donate2FriendsNewUndergroundRailroad

 

 

 

 

Information to make a donation with a check is here: http://friendsugandansafetransport.org/donate/ Please let us know you are sending it so we can plan.

Thanks!
Gabi Clayton
Manager, Friends New Underground Railroad