Born and raised in Rubaga, Sweet Love, 26 is a daring trans woman who has dedicated her life to sheltering homeless fellow queers. In 2000, Sweet Love scared for her life left home to start afresh in a place where she was not known. She had just been outed to her family and basing on the fact that most of her siblings and relatives had previously threatened to drag her to police if she didn’t stop behaving like women.
With no where to turn, Sweet Love sought refugee in one of Uganda’s leading red light areas called Kabalagala. After sleeping in bars for almost two months, she found relief when a group of female sex workers offered her shelter; this period helped her to make concrete plans on how to better her life.It was during this hard time when she was homeless that Sweet Love learnt to hustle without hiding anyone else’s wings; she learnt that she had to provide for herself without burdening others..
News later reached Sweet Love that she had been announced as missing on WBS television and CBS radio by her family; they were requesting her to come back home but she chose not to since she did not know what awaited her if she returned to these transphobic people that had threatened her life.
As a regular patron within Kabalagala, Sweet Love met a number of men who picked interest in her but she was still fearful as she had never engaged in any outright sexual moments with men.
Among these, she met a man that she got close to overtime. He rented a place of abode for Sweet Love and eventually convinced her to move to Nairobi with promises of being given a much better life. After consultations with her new friends in Kabalagala, she accepted the offer and they left together for Nairobi in 2005. This road trip to another country ushered Sweet Love into another chapter of her life as this man introduced her to sex work. He started selling her to different kinds of men and through this she would receive a small percentage of the pay as the pimp enjoyed the lion’s share of her sweat.
After four months in Nairobi, she decided to run away to a different part of the city. Unfortunately, she was picked up by police because she did not have proper identification documents. Upon narrating her illegal entry process into Nairobi to the police, she begged them to deport her but this too was futile since the same man came and bailed her out of detention. He promised that things would get better and the sex work would stop.
A few months later, Sweet Love bumped into a Ugandan who quickly became his friend. This new acquaintance helped him process travel and identification documents which helped her come back home. On return to Kampala, Sweet Love was determined to make something of her life and as fate would have it, she met a man who was ready to ‘marry’ and take her off the streets shortly thereafter.
Scared that this could be another trap, Sweet Love insisted that all she wanted was a place to call her own. This man made it clear that he had a wife and children and would introduce her to his family as a nephew.
“I did not want to get involved in an affair with a heterosexual married man or someone who was experimenting so I quickly pushed aside all his advances although I stayed with him for a while purely for financial reasons. He gave me a face-lift -buying her new things and promised to taker me back to school,’’ Sweet Love narrates.
As part of the arrangement to take Sweet Love to back to school, she was tasked to take this man to her parents. Although it was a difficult decision, she knew she would not let a chance to further education pass her by simply because she bore bad blood against her relatives.
The two eventually visited Sweet Love’s parents and and as expected there were accusations and counter accusations about her gender. The family resolved to have her taken for anal tests to prove if she had had sexual intercourse with men- something she did not deny and disclosed the details of her time in Nairobi.
LENDING A HELPING HAND
Because she had once been homeless, Sweet Love decided she would use whatever means to help other young kuchus in such situations. She now opens up her two roomed home to about five people in a week.
While she continues to experience alienation from the locals and threats of arrests from the area leaders, Sweet Love says she feels she has found her calling and in her own humble way is contributing to bettering the lives of so many young kuchus.
She has been arrested more than five times but for her this is affirmation that she is creating impact and reaching out to people who are in need.
On the day that Kuchu Times visited, there was a young bisexual man and a lesbian who after failing to find where to go turned to Sweet Love to put a roof over their heads.