Stock photo October 2022 - “I will overcome. I see great improvement.”
The hope and resilience of Elijah cannot be broken easily. For the past two months, he has been stuck in Rwanda, travelling between his apartment and the hospital, dealing with the consequences that the physical violence he experienced had on his body.
“In the last two months I was operated and I lost one of my testicles... Medicine was recommended for a period of six months, but if it fails then I will have to go for another surgery.”
The attacks that he suffered before fleeing to Rwanda damaged his urinary system and made him unable to walk. SUN has managed to pay for a wheelchair that he can use to go outside of his place and to the hospital. He needs to visit the clinic every week, an obligation that costs him much energy - the journey between his place and the hospital being 40 mins long and the only means of transportation being his wheelchair.
“The challenge is more on my way back home from the hospital because the hospital is in a valley and I stay uphill.”
Nevertheless, he is hopeful about the future. His legs are now sensitive to stimuli such as touch and pain, and the doctors told him that he should be back on his feet in six months. He now only sees two threats to his recovery and to his relocation to somewhere safer: the danger of being discovered by his previous attackers, and the risk of running out of funds.
“I live in fear. I'm afraid of being found here because I already received a message showing that... the people who persecuted, molested and threatened me in Uganda know my whereabouts and are still looking for me.” On July 10th, Elijah received the following message from an unknown number on WhatsApp: “We understand you are in Rwanda but we will get you anytime. At least, we’ll cut the meat for the dogs to eat [translated].”
The Ugandan mob that first attacked him for his bisexuality more than two years ago has still not quenched its hatred and its thirst for violence.
Furthermore, Elijah is also afraid of being identified as an LGBTI member in his current location in Rwanda, since discrimination against the queer community is widely spread in everyday practices and interactions. “Everyone lives in fear. Rwanda is a country of fear.” “Even protection officers at UNHCR and government during my asylum interviews informed me that here I will be attacked if people get to know that I'm an LGBTI member.”
In order to be safe and able to recover at best, Elijah needs your help. Our funds have sustained him for the past months, but they are now running low. He needs help to pay for his daily expenses, for his accommodation and for the medicines and physiotherapy his body requires. With your support, his health may with time once again become as strong as his determination is.
“[Interviewer]: If I may ask, what inspires you to find the strength? “[Elijah]: The care and support I get from you guys.”