When I left Uganda in February of 2014, for a speaking engagement in one of the most progressive states in the USA and home to Scott Lively the American Evangelical who sowed seeds of hate in Uganda, I didn’t know what was a two week visit was to become an indefinite stay. Today am protected by the US Government after I sought asylum.
I have always traveled and returned to Uganda and it never rang in my mind to seek or leave my country for life abroad but this was inevitable if I was to stay safe and alive and am still so proud to be Ugandan. The greed for power by the politicians and homophobes, the condemnation by the churches and call to kill gays , lack of protection by my own government played a big role on my decision and worst ever the signing of a new law that was to harsh punish same sex consenting adults. I noticed it wasn’t safe and not even sure if I could breathe another day should I return home.
My hosts were concerned and the secretly went ahead to find an attorney for me. I laughed about it when they informed me and I responded I didn’t need an attorney because I’m going back home at the end my trip.
It never happened it was easy in words, the reality of the situation of what was on ground was not. I received a lot of information that made my stomach sic, I received a lot of advice from concerned friends mostly than my family and with all this I decided to make a very difficult decision to stay..
I met with the attorneys and the shared with me what it meant should I seek asylum, with tears rolling down my cheek and in pain I took the decision. I was not going to go back home for a very long time. I started working on my case meanwhile I needed to also start thinking on housing, medical insurance, upkeep etc. My host was very patient with me and for four months he met my bills as I was heading to meetings and looking for support. I needed to find a community to belong too.
Through my attorneys I managed to get medical insurance which was very necessary as health is so expensive, without insurance one is doomed. I had endless meetings with various organizations trying to find support but all in vain. Support for asylum seekers is very very limited, no support from the government, friends set up fundraising pages for me and through them and my speaking engagements some felt empathy and wrote me checks or donated to ensure I could have food water, transport, laundry, phone and upkeep. I resorted to begging so as to be able to sustain myself. This was to go on as long as I didn’t have a 3 regarding my asylum. I wasn’t allowed to work or earn money. There is not a time frame when you should expect a decision. It ranges from anywhere between 3 months on and with a lot of security measures the carry a lot of background check. Everything seemed to take forever and the only way was to wait patiently. Two ladies offered to fundraise each month for my rent.
Integrating into a new society comes with a lot of challenges right from Education, Competition for Jobs, culture, attitude and how society conducts itself, the day to day running of life and things.
A lot of patience is needed or else you find yourself frustrated, the west is not really the Dream land as we think though we must appreciate that they have progressed in terms of respect for Human Rights, Freedom of speech and expression and protection of their Citizens.