Affirmation's Work in Uganda (Newsletter, Fall, 2016)

By Ann Craig

Life for LGBTI people in Uganda was never easy but, in 2007, American Scott Lively made it much worse. He went to Uganda and worked directly with lawmakers to help draft the Anti-Homosexuality Bill known as the “Kill the Gays” bill. International pressure kept the bill from passing until early 2014 when a slightly less heinous version was voted through.

Employers, landlords. and neighbors forced LGBTI people to flee because the law included prison for them if they did not report them. Without job or housing, some fled to Kenya and applied for asylum. Others fled from house to house within Uganda. The law was annulled in August of 2014, and some people returned to rebuild their lives despite ongoing discrimination.

One of our members was in contact with a group led by Chaplain Denis Iraguha, founder of The Liberty Africa Youth Foundation (TLAYF). His goal was to form two businesses to train people so they could earn their own livings. TLAYF received a grant from Affirmation about a year and a half ago to establish the businesses, a hair salon and a brick making venture.

Under the leadership of Chaplain Iraguha, the hair salon was set up and is still in operation. About 4 men and 13 women have worked there at different points of the year. They’ve learned and shared their skills, and it’s a profitable business.

The brick business was successful too, but faced many challenges. Towers of 20,000 bricks emerged with ovens built into the side which were filled with firewood, sealed, and burned to harden the bricks. Torrential rains hit the area before some of the bricks were fired and several members of the team were flooded out of their homes.

Nonetheless about a dozen workers, both men and women, were employed over a nine month period. In assessing the projects, Chaplain Denis said, “On both projects we have gained experience on how to handle finances. This is a number one success as leaders of The Liberty Africa Youth Foundation, how to make prices of different items, bargaining power, treating the customer, providing services to different clients. Some members of TLAYF have benefited by getting training and have skills in both molding bricks and all stages through to market time. Some other members have gained skills in different men’s and women’s hair styles.”

At Affirmation’s recent Denver meeting, the national council decided to support the HIV / AIDS pastoral care ministry of Chaplain Denis with the members of TLAYF and the broader community. With $160 per month, he will deliver food, assist people with clinic visits, share HIV / AIDS education, and provide spiritual support.

Life is still difficult for Ugandan LGBTI people but there are signs of hope. Chaplain Denis brings his group together for worship and support, while other Ugandans are part of a lawsuit based on international law against Scott Lively for crimes against humanity. In recent weeks, the trial heard oral arguments at the US District Court in Springfield, MA.

Every action which supports and defends LGBTI people around the world is a sign of hope.           

You are here: Home News Newsletters (Current) Affirmation's Work in Uganda (Newsletter, Fall, 2016)