In addition to providing emergency travel support to individuals fleeing persecution, Rainbow Railroad operates five programs, including Partnership Development. Through this program, we work closely with human rights defenders and grassroots organizations to provide direct support to LGBTQI+ communities on the ground. One of these organizations is Mbarara Rise Foundation (MRF).
MRF was founded in 2016 to address discrimination, violence and persecution faced by LGBTQI+ individuals in rural communities in western Uganda. They promote social change, equality, and acceptance, and offer a range of essential services tailored to the needs of the LGBTQI+ community in Uganda. These services include legal aid, HIV-related support and counseling, healthcare access, advocacy, safe housing and relocation, and economic empowerment skills programs.
Real Raymond, MRF’s Executive Director, reflects on the ups and downs of operating the organization: “We face a combination of challenges and rewarding moments. The difficult parts primarily revolve around the persistent discrimination, persecution and violence faced by LGBTQI+ individuals in Uganda. It is heart-wrenching to witness the hardships LGBTQI+ individuals endure due to societal prejudice and discriminatory laws. Additionally, working in an environment where our mission is met with resistance and hostility can be emotionally taxing. However, we’re never deterred by these challenges. We also witness the transformation and positive impact of our work on the LGBTQI+ individuals we support. These success stories serve as a guiding light and inspire us to continue our work. The resilience and strength of the LGBTQI+ community in Uganda are a constant source of inspiration for us.”
MRF continues to advocate for legislative change and empower LGBTQI+ individuals to be a catalyst for social change, contributing to a more inclusive and accepting society in Uganda.
To LGBTQI+ individuals facing difficulties, Mbarara offers a message of solidarity, resilience, and hope: “You are not alone and your identity is valid. Reach out for support and find allies who will stand by your side. There is strength in our community, and together, we can create positive change. Your well-being and happiness are worth fighting for, and brighter days are ahead.”
“And to those who support Rainbow Railroad, we, at MRF, extend our deepest gratitude and appreciation. Your support of Rainbow Railroad is a lifeline for LGBTQI+ individuals in Uganda and around the world. You are making a tangible difference in the lives of those who need it most. Your commitment to our cause is a beacon of hope, and we thank you for your unwavering solidarity and generosity. Together, we are working towards a world where love, acceptance, and equality prevail.”
This Giving Tuesday, November 28, all donations to Rainbow Railroad will be directed to our work in Uganda, including our support of partner organizations like MRF. Donate here.