Image of Seagirl Abuson standing on a pier wearing a long sleeve white t-shirt and black hat starting off into the distance. Seagirl is a transgender refugee from Kenya wearing bright red lipstick and looks beautiful.

Momentum for Seagirl Lwanga Abuson

Project Goal: $250 

Start date: September 1, 2020

 We spent time interviewing Seagirl and have put together this blog to help share her story.

Seagirl Abuson Lwanga is a 21 year-old refugee who arrived in Victoria, BC last year. Before moving to Canada, Seagirl was living for one year in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. She was forced to leave her home in Uganda at the age of 13, and has spent her life on the run from violent homophobia and fear for her life as a transgender person. 

Seagirl is passionate about raising awareness about the intense struggles of the LGBTQI+ refugee communities living in Kenya. Since moving to Canada, she continues to support her community at the camp and send money for basic resources such as shelter, medication, and safety. 

Kenya is the only country in the region to provide asylum to those fleeing persecution based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression. There are nearly 300 LGBTQI+ refugees and asylum seekers living in Kakuma and some 1000 across Kenya. (See Resources below) Seagirl is concerned that the UNHCR has not been active in reaching out to the LGBTQI+ refugees, to make sure they are registered and that their needs are being assessed and addressed. 

She believes that the NGOs are not doing a good job at distributing the money because the people who need the most help (non-binary, trans, and LGBTQI+ people) don’t know enough English to access the help (i.e. fill out forms) that is offered by the NGOs. 

Tell us about yourself!

I helped organize the first-ever pride festival in Kenya and I lead the march as the only transgender person in the parade! News of this festival gained a lot of media presence - but it also was a major insecurity exposing the LGBTQI+ communities at the camp. The festival resulted in violent attacks toward the LGBTQI+ communities. (See Resources below) 

I was able to come to Canada with the help of 7 friends who sponsored my case and the help of another friend named Robin. I am worried about the safety of my community and getting them the resources they need. 

What has inspired you to raise awareness and money for your cause?

It is me, and my life story. There are moments in my life when I wished to have someone tell me, “Abuson everything will be OK”.  

l am passionate to give our young LGBTQI+ community or younger generation a message that you can find love and support and meet people who have experienced what they are going though. l seek to show love and equality to those people who need it and try to reduce suicide in our young generation and help them to stay strong. 

What do you want to share with our community about your cause?

If you are a refugee from Uganda living in Kenya, it is automatically known you are gay because Kenya is the only country in the region to provide asylum to those fleeing persecution based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression. (See Resources below) 

Currently, people seeking asylum are not allowed to work. They live on less than $10 a month and some have no recourse to public funds.

To become a refugee you must go to the UN agency and seek asylum, they have to confirm your case and help you find a settlement country. The UN is mandated to protect you but a lot of people die, commit suicide, or are murdered due to homophobic violence. The resettlement process for refugees living in Kenya is very long.  This very long waiting process, sometimes 5+ years, results in very high suicide rates or death from homophobic violence in the community.

Structural inequality, systemic racism and the phobia against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer,  Intersex, (LGBTQI+) individuals is deeply embedded within our society and public infrastructure. This can be seen in the exclusion faced by Black African LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum and resettlement because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. This is causing a tremendous toll on the mental health and quality of living of our LGBTQI+ community.

Can you describe how a donation will help you build momentum for your project?

Your donation will help pay for food, more housing, medication, and hospital bills for our LGBTQI+ communities living in Kakuma refugee camp. 

Soon we are looking forward to raise more money to help a lot of the LGBTQI+ community in Uganda and Kenya to access hormones. Having access to hormones costs $50/month and can make a huge difference for mental well-being and reduce homophobic violence. 

I would like to build or create more safe houses in Kenya and Uganda. This would help a lot of LGBTQI+ members who have been rejected from their families or facing similar problems on the streets. Also, l am thinking I would like to help create workshops, for example in fashion, art and craft, English, and computer skills. 

Upclose image of Seagirl Abuson a transgender refugee from Uganda. Text overlay that says "It Gets Better Together". Small pride flag can me found at the bottom right corner of image.

Is there anything you would like to add?

l am trying my best to look for support and connections to the people who are most concerned. I would love if l could do it alone but l am in a new country and l need to study and find a job. l was donating most my income but it will never be enough to support all the needs of LGBTQI+ community in Africa.

I am still experiencing homophobia in Canada, which is making it hard. I am now experiencing racism too, which is additionally painful. It is not only hard for me to find a job in Victoria but for my Black people too. I want to raise awareness for all Black lives.  

What are your social media handles?

Facebook → Lwanga Abuson

Instagram @seagirlabuson

DONATE DIRECTLY 

Support Seagirl Supporting LGBTQI In Kenya, organized by Kori Doty

RESOURCES

September 16, 2020 — Kimiko Foster