I am from Uganda. Moving to the USA was one of the hardest decisions that I have ever had to make. I love the natural beauty of my country and its rich, deep history, but was not allowed to freely and safely be myself. It was a choice between staying in my country, but forever living in a mentally, physically and emotionally abusive family. Or, leaving Uganda and being able to live my life to the fullest. I chose to leave it all behind and seek freedom in the USA.
The LGBT Asylum Task Force has been an important part of my transition to life in this country. The ability to feel safe and welcomed and to network with people whom are going through this same process has been invaluable. I now have a lovely & supportive family that I have chosen. This is great! There are people that I can call whenever I need help in navigating aspects of life in America. I have friends who can comfort me on the days that I am feeling down. I am convinced that my journey would have been very different without the community that the Task Force offers. Currently, I work in the I.T. field in Boston and I am hopeful for the future.
I came from Uganda to seek asylum in the U.S. After my family found out that I was in a relationship with my same-sex partner, they disowned me. I was arrested with my girlfriend by the Ugandan authorities. We were gang raped by the policemen while at the detention center, and my girlfriend died because one of the policemen squeezed her throat while forcing her to have sex with him, and she stopped breathing. I managed to escape and got to the U.S.
I got to know about the LGBT Asylum Task Force through my pastor, who was also in the task force. I was warmly received by the task force—they gave me food, clothes and shelter, which really gave me tears of joy plus a sense of belonging. I know I have a family that believes in my sexual orientation and I feel safe.
My father sent me to boarding school to get a good education. There I began to explore my sexual orientation and found that I was attracted to women. I got in trouble for that and was bullied a lot. I did well in school. I loved math. I am good at numbers. I dreamed of growing up to be a successful accountant. In my dreams, I imagined sharing my life with a woman, but I knew that was impossible in Nigeria. After I graduated from high school, my father began to pressure me to marry. I resisted. Finally, I told my father I was lesbian. He beat me for the very first time in my life. It broke my heart.
My father imprisoned me in my own home. Late one night, two men entered my room and I was raped all night. It is called “corrective gang rape” in my country and it is common! While I was hurt emotionally and physically, what broke my heart was that there was no forced entry into my home. I came to realize that my father ordered this horrible act in hopes of changing my sexual orientation. I screamed for my dad to come and save me; he was in the next room. He did not come.
I escaped to live with my Grandma, then I discovered that I was pregnant. One year later, my grandmother died. I was homeless with an infant, so I went looking for work. I saw a travel agency sign saying there was work in Egypt. In desperation, I left my son at my father’s house and left without talking. I only hoped my dad would love my little boy, like he loved me as a child. I was to later find out that he did. But I had years of nightmares about my son dying or being in an accident.
Another long story, but I was sold into domestic slavery and sent to Egypt. To survive, I cared for three children, three adults, all household duties and food prep. They had a HUGE dog that I was terribly frightened of. The sad thing is that I watched those people love that dog, while they treated me a lot worse.
They brought me on their vacation to California. I saw the opportunity to escape from them and took it. I went to the bus station with $350 desperately saved dollars. I told the lady at the counter, “I want a ticket to Boston.” I did not know if it was a state, a city, an island... something whispered to me and said, “Boston is where you need to go” The ticket was $300.
That is just one reason why I believe in God!
On that four-day trip, I was so scared; I wanted to jump off the bus. I was able, by the grace of God, to sit through this long and hungry trip to come nearer to a Task Force that would save my life. But for that ride, I was horribly alone and frightened.
As I approached South Station in Boston, I heard a woman speaking my home language. I begged her to take me home with her. She left South Station to ask her husband. I stood in the same spot for 6 hours. I did not go to the bathroom or eat. I am here today, because that woman’s husband returned. He walked toward me and said, “Are you Susan.” I want to tell you that I believe that God has a plan for me and has saved my life. Eventually, after couch surfing with many homophobic Africans living in America, the attorney that I found on the internet, told me about the LGBT Asylum Task Force.
Since then, my life has changed. I feel safe. I feel respected, accepted, and loved! I know that I will get my son here. I know that I will get an education and work hard. I know that I have a bright future. I got my work permit and a parishioner at Hadwen Park church paid for me to become a C.N.A. I work in health care in a nursing home. I have a car.
Pastor Judy tells me to dream. I do. I see little Jacob jumping off a school bus. I imagine shopping for his school shoes. And I see a day where my beautiful girlfriend might be with us if she can escape her horror in Nigeria.
BLESSED POST SCRIPT!
Susan stood before the immigration hearing and told her story. She was officially granted asylum and is on her way to permanent residency and citizenship (which can take up to 10 years!) She also has begun the proceedings to request that her son come live with her. Prayers that her partner can get a visa to come to the USA and seek asylum. God IS still speaking.