Tuesday 4th Oct, 2016 at 9:30am was a nightmare for Rural Movement Initiative (RUMI) based in rural Eastern Uganda Mbale district. Despite suffering an office break-in in 2015, our landlord and fellow tenants continued to threaten us on grounds of allegedly promoting homosexuality.
The recent break in took us unaware and rigorously; we delayed to pay rent 3 months upfront from Oct to Dec 2016 as we always do, which gave the landlord an opportunity to throw us out.
“Carry your homosexuality out of my house” were the first words that came out of our landlord’s mouth accompanied by calling us all sorts of unruly names. There was nothing we could do as our documents were sensitive and we were few in number. The landlord and his boys threw our stuff out of his premises which attracted a crowd of people. We resorted to taking all the sensitive documents to my residence for safe custody.
After sharing our fateful story with many of our friends and partners within and outside Uganda, our joy was restored when the International HIV/AIDS Alliance listened to our cries and helped to relocate us. A big thank you to SMUG, Hrapf, Spectrum, ERWEO, Kuchu Times and Chapter Four, who were really there for RUMI in terms of encouraging us and providing referrals. Our new address is;Plot 13, Bugwe road, Maluku, MBALE district.
The new office is spacious enough to allow us provide services to rural LGBT, MSM, SWs, PLWHIV. We plan
a) To strengthen our partnership with local, national and international organizations to promote health especially HIV related to the above target group.
b) To do research and documentation is one of our core program areas, even when we have no resources, we plan to digitalize our documents to reduce risks related to our confidential information.
c) To conduct more community outreaches on HIV at least twice every month. This we hope shall reduce on the spread of the virus and probably encourage those who have contracted the virus to take on medication as we feed them spiritually with the word of God.
d) Develop new security techniques to avoid future evictions as we are still in the centre of homophobes.
e) We are focusing on setting up a relatively small clinic at our office since we still have a room we have spared for this. This is because our target group fear getting health services from the already established government hospitals and as a result those who can afford have to travel to Kampala (Ice Breakers Uganda) to get treatment or otherwise choose to go without treatment or go to such hospitals vulnerably.
RUMI’s services range from counseling, provision of lubricants, condoms, referrals, economic empowerment, education and human rights advocacy to the lesbian, gay,bisexual, transgender, men who have sex with men, sex workers, and people living with HIV. We majorly do referrals for HIV testing, acquisition of ARVs, etc since we don’t have this in place. All these services are free of charge once you identify as one of the above.