14 Jan

Nineteen Transgender Ugandan People in Extreme Danger – An Emergency Appeal from Friends New Underground Railroad

Right now there are 19 transgender people in hiding in extreme danger. They are being hunted and have run to a hiding place where we learned about them. They are hungry, desperate, some are almost naked, and they are crying because they are terrified.

THIS IS A CRISIS SITUATION. When day breaks their hiding place will no longer be safe.

A person who is connected with the conductors that FNUR supports has given them some food, bedding, and encouragement for now but they must be moved out of Uganda. Today! He wrote:

“Any simple mistake and they will be killed. You have no idea how bloodthirsty this village is.”

In the FriendsNewUndergroundRailroad-logo-200pxlast two weeks we have supported 198 people to escape Uganda. The need is getting more and more urgent as we are closer to the new version of the Anti-Homosexuality law passing. Mobs aren’t waiting; they are now attacking LGBT people where they find them.

The transporter one of the conductors usually works with is in the middle of getting 98 LGBT people out and so he is not able to do this. There is a backup transporter known to the conductor who will ensure these 19 transgender people get out of the country, but he has to be paid before he can do it and he charges $78 for each person.

So we need to raise $1,482.00 NOW to get these people to safety.

Will you please help?!

Make a donation to FNUR so that we can help save these 19 transgender men and women.

To get donations to us quickly, please send through our PayPal account here:
https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=MLJJ9UY5Z2NRS

If you can’t do that and want to send a check, the information about that is here:
http://friendsugandansafetransport.org/donate/
Please send us a message to let us know it is coming for this.

Please share this with your contacts.

Thank you,
Gabi Clayton
Manager, Friends New Underground Railroad

Download this appeal here in PDF format.

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.

10 Dec

Flee Or Die: Olympia Quakers Support Uganda’s Underground Railroad. Talcott Broadhead gives an update on KUOW

KUOW_Record-logoTalcott Broadhead gave an update on the work of Friends New Underground Railroad on December 10, 2014 to hosts Ross Reynolds & Matthew Streib on “The Record” on NPR member radio station KUOW 94.9 FM in Seattle between 12 Noon and 1pm PST.  http://www.kuow.org/programs/record

12/12/2014 – here is the interview:

Flee Or Die: Olympia Quakers Support Uganda’s Underground Railroad

By Ross Reynolds & Matthew Streib • Dec 10, 2014 • 10:29 minutes. Listen:
http://kuow.org/post/flee-or-die-olympia-quakers-support-ugandas-underground-railroad

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


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08 Nov

We Have Lost Tony – One of the Railroad Conductors. We Need to Raise Money for His Burial ASAP

This is a hard thing to write about. We are all grief-stricken. One of Friends New Underground Railroad’s Ugandan conductors, Tony, died today.

FNUR co-manager Talcott Broadhead wrote:

“There was a lot of bitter today. Not much sweet, sadly. A Ugandan conductor and dear friend who I have been working with for the past 6 months passed away a few hours ago. May he rest in power and …well….just rest. He moved mountains. He moved people. He is in my heart now forever.”

In Tony’s memory:
“If you have come here to help me, then you are wasting your time…But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” –Lila Watson

Another Quaker we work with wrote:

“I have lost a brother and a friend. He rescued almost 300 people, including children. And did it all while he had typhoid, malaria, active tuberculosis, worms, acute dysentery, poor nutrition, and who knows what else. When he collapsed with the blood clot, the medical staff was amazed at all the other things wrong with him. And through it all, he carried on, with clear thinking, and even with humor (especially when I kept telling him to eat!)

In another culture and another time, he would be a legend greater than Oscar Schindler.”

Tony developed a blood clot in a lung. In Uganda, the second you don’t have cash to pay for your care the hospital throws you out. Tony’s care therefore was inconsistent. In the last two days he was cared for by a lovely man who we also work with. So his final days were in a loving and peaceful environment.

Tony’s family completely rejected him in his life and even in death they have turned their backs on him. The man who cared for him at the end wrote,

“Even his family isn’t interested or even accept his body because he was gay.”

It was such an honor to work beside Tony. I will miss this man who was an amazing friend and activist. This is a really a hard time for those of us who knew and loved this man and had the honor of working with him.

Tony was an inspiration for us in so many ways, and now we will carry him and carry on in this work that he was so passionate to do.

But first we need to bury his body. We need to raise $785 to have Tony buried ASAP. And we have less than $10 right now and none of us have the funds to pay this.

Please donate what you can to help us bury Tony and ask your friends to do so as well.

Thank you,
Gabi Clayton, co-manager of Friends New Underground Railroad

10 Oct

Emergency medical funds needed for an FNUR conductor who has assisted close to 300 LGBT Ugandans

We need to raise at least $875 in emergency funds to aid one of the FNUR Ugandan conductors who is in the hospital dealing with multiple medical crises.

On Monday this conductor, who collapsed from a clot and who has some medical knowledge, wrote:

“Its not all good and am in a situation where I can’t help myself. I have clot which is moving towards my vital organs. I am hospitalized right now and I need medical help now according to the medical report.”

He had surgery Monday for the clot and the operation was a success. We were able to send money to cover the operation. He was in intensive care and then the general ward.

Then yesterday, on Thursday, he was denied medication and medical care because of lack of money to pay the hospital bill.

The friend who has been assisting him and communicating with us wrote:

FriendsNewUndergroundRailroad-logo-200px“To the hospital we are broke poor people who seem not to have anybody who can help us and we can’t give out any security details. Am going to ask the hospital to discharge him so we don’t accumulate the bed bill tonight. Besides he isn’t being attended to so its better I take him back to his roomed house where I will look after him. If he dies from the complex surgeries he had God knows I did my best.”

“The current need from the money needed for his medications etc. Tube feeding all his medication and hospital bed admission and care and transport as I move up and down.

“Africa is such evil no money no medical care. [Conductor’s name] is on drips and connecting wires but one nurse understands he will disconnect him so that I don’t land into mob trouble which will compromise our security and exposes both me and [conductor’s name] who have kept a dark closet to help others on extreme danger

“am here with him in the general men’s ward. When am so broke and crying I rush out. Its 9am here and the situation isn’t so good since he hasn’t received any medication since 1pm when he was moved from the other unit.”

Then 12 hours ago:

“The hospital didn’t discharge us last night so am trying to get a discharge this morning.”

And an hour ago:

“For sound medical reasons [conductor’s name] had to remain in the hospital. Am now back to the hospital to watch him for a night. Sometimes the very people who are supposed to save lives end up being so heartless.”

Help us send the urgently needed money for this conductor’s hospital bills and for medication – antibiotics after surgery, painkillers, medication for his typhoid and malaria.

Please make a donation to help this man who has saved so many people!

Thank you.

06 Oct

CL’s Story – Living in the Jaws of Death Because of Our Sexual Orientation. And An Appeal.

Story from a passenger of Friends New Underground Railroad.

September 22, 2014

Dear Levi Coffin II,

How are you? I believe you are well. I got your contact from your representative here whose name am not free to mention in this letter.

My name is CA aged 23 and a bisexual. I have been a third-year student pursuing a bachelors degree in business administration at one of the private universities in Kampala until recently when our presence was threatened.

We are a group of LGBTs almost reaching 78 in number at this university and belong to a bigger group named —— that has membership across other universities both public and private. We estimate ——’s membership overall to be in the region of 900 or more.

I had my boyfriend at another university and we hit it off well save for the time when the anti-homosexuality law came into force.

We started getting threats from fellow students including one very sad one that I recall vividly. A girl who was open and was not shy about her sexual orientation confronted some guys who were pulling another girl’s hair at a basketball tournament and calling her names. The bold and open girl saw a scuffle and went near to find out what was happening. On realizing that the guys were now lynching her friend and accusing her of shaming their faculty by engaging in abominable acts of homosexuality, she held one of the guys by the collar and gave him heavy blows on the face. This infuriated his colleagues and they all pounced on her, almost leaving her for dead.

Three other members of —— at this university and I took her to the university sickbay. The university nurse was very receptive but just administered first aid and referred us to Entebbe Hospital. She was taken to the hospital in a university guild van. At the hospital, we were well received and the girl had a deep cut on the forehead that required stitches. These she got and other medical interventions.

After three days at the hospital, news spread that there was a group of girls that are lesbians and were taking care of a friend who was assaulted. The guys came in droves to the hospital to make an attack and were repulsed by the hospital security as they shouted and chanted anti-homosexuality slogans.

While this was good gesture from the hospital, it didn’t do us further good as the hospital management kindly asked us to pack our stuff and leave just for the safety of other patients and also the property which would be damaged if the guys attacked again. Now that this girl was slightly better, but still weak, we managed to take her to one of our friend’s room.

The rest of the girls and I went back to campus to continue with our studies, but we were totally wrong. I and my two other friends stayed in the hostel within campus. We arrived at around 8 pm. No sooner had we arrived and unpacked our stuff up than we were simultaneously confronted by four guys who were masked. One guy held me by the neck and I really struggled for breath and speech. I could not even scream for help.

One girl managed to escape and she called two of our friends in the adjacent rooms to come to our rescue.  One of our rescuers came with a big club which she used to hit each of the three guys who were still pounding the girls hard. One guy was terribly injured and the other three ran away. The injured guy was picked up by university security and we later learnt that what happened to us was a machination of some members of the university guild. So the guy was let off easily, not prosecuted, and none of us was ready to follow up the case for fear of reprisals.

We secretly met and decided that we had to take another move for our safety. We had to shift from the university hostel and find accommodation in rented rooms outside the university where we would not be easily traced. We could come and attend lectures and disguise our movements back to our hideouts (rooms).

This game plan lasted for not more than three months and we were soon busted when the guys again attacked my room which I shared with three other girls. We were now locked inside at around 11:45 pm and ready to sleep. The guys banged the door and we shouted for help, thinking they were thugs, until we heard the guys threatening to torch us if we didn’t open the door. We refused to heed and fortunately our landlord alerted the police who were prompt in responding. When the guys saw the police patrol car lights, they took off. So we are happy that this time God was on our side and we survived assault.

We could not sleep in the room that night and had to go seek temporary shelter at a chapel disguised as having a night prayer. The following morning we fled to Nakawuka where one of our colleagues had an aunt. We were severally tormented by our fellow students and we realized that we had very limited space to express our discontent even to the administration. All previous attempts to have our tormentors well brought to book were futile as they seemed to be well protected.

Some 29 of us had leave the university” 6 went to Rwanda, 2 went to South Africa and 21 are desperate to flee as they are in constant fear of reprisals from the community any time they get wind of their sexual orientation.

Please all who will read this letter know that more students have left this university either at their own will or been expelled because of their sexual orientation. We have now concluded that this being a Catholic University paints a dark picture that catholic institutions are ideologically bankrupt in as far as respecting the rights of LGBTs. We are aware that even nursing students are expelled in droves based on reality or perception of their sexual orientation. No wonder this has not spared even the seminarians. They have also been showed the exit for either being perceived to be gays or expressing themselves as such.

FriendsNewUndergroundRailroad-logo-200pxTherefore, I and my friends (21 in all) are in need of support through the contact you have used before to get other victims out of Uganda. We are also proud and thankful to Friends New Underground Railroad (FNUR) for existing to provide support through their contacts to have people like us who are publicly tormented, hated and even killed for being what we are moved out!!!!!

By the way, let no one be deceived that the revocation of the law against homosexuality has made things any better for us. Instead it has invigorated the public to take the law into its hands and we are braced to see more lynching, abuse, evictions and sacking from employment.

All we want is kind-hearted people to help me and my peers flee the country as soon as practically possible because we can never predict when bad luck will strike and we are assaulted or even killed. We are scattered, but are in touch with the FNUR conductor here who knows how best to organize us and have us leave.

Besides, our confidence is now in FNUR, after the big name LGBT organizations here have stated categorically clear to us that they don’t have financial resources for people who flee. They encourage us to stay and confront the tormentor. To us this is unreasonably unfair as it would put many lives in harm’s way.

Please have all the freedom to share this letter if this will help bring to the fore what the LGBTs in Uganda are enduring even after the law was revoked.

CA


Great news – CA was taken out of Uganda by one of the Railroad’s conductors on Thursday night along with four other lesbian women. So she and the others are on their way to their new lives.

So as of today – October 5, 2014 – our donors have financed the Ugandan conductors to aid 595 individuals to escape: 581 LGBTQ adults, 6 straight allies, and 8 children.

And we have 16 more in hiding with this conductor. We need your help to raise $185 each for the transportation costs, so we need to raise $2960.00.

Please help us with your donation and tell your friends:

Donate through PayPal here:

PayPal-Donate2FriendsNewUndergroundRailroad
or find out about how to send a check here:
http://friendsugandansafetransport.org/donate/

Thank you!

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.

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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!

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