It was his father who took him to meet the village elders and accused him of being gay at the age of 19. At first, Joseph denied it but the elders wouldn't believe him and he was sent to prison for two weeks. After that, he carried on denying it for a while before eventually admitting it to his mother. She told his father and tried to take him to a traditional doctor, believing that his homosexuality could have been caused by the traditional witches.
Eventually, though, his mother accepted his “nature” and said “Joseph you are still my son, I gave birth to your body, and God gave birth to your soul.” His mother’s acceptance was not enough to save him from his community. They termed him as evil . The elders in the village had a meeting, his father was present. They told him he had one week to leave the village. His mother told him to leave fearing that he would be killed by the villagers if he didn’t.
So began a period of studying and working in Uganda’s capital Kampala. Joseph earned a diploma in computer science. He promised to transfer his mother and sister to the city as soon as he earned enough to rent a house. Now, he wishes he had brought his mother more quickly. "I had a very poor background. I wanted my mother to have a sofa to sit on and a TV to watch," Joseph recounts sorrowfully. "Now I realize it is not those material things which count."
Because of Joseph's sexuality, his mother and sister were also facing discrimination. "The locals believed my Mom and sister were lesbians because my Mom gave birth to a gay and my sister came from the same person. They think that being gay is catching. If I sit next to you, then you will be gay too," says Joseph.
On the night he went back to arrange for their transfer, in 2014, (having paid to be allowed to come back to the village for one night) thieves came to their house and killed his mom and sister. "Two massive men came from behind and they cut my sister. When they cut my Mom she screamed, 'Joseph run'. Joseph took off. "I slept in a ditch that night," he says. He could see the straw roofs of his village burning. When he rang his father in another village the next morning, in the hope that he could take his mother and sister to the hospital, his father replied, "they are dead because of you. If you hadn't come back, they wouldn't have died, and you are next..."
Joseph hasn't seen his father since. Later he heard that his father was in prison. He tried to help, but his father refused his help. He heard later that he died when he was in Kenya.
Now Joseph works as a volunteer in Greece helping Single mothers and LGBTQ Refugees.
One of the first inhabitants of the shelter was Carmel from Congo. In the video, she explains how she was violently raped which caused her serious mental health issues. The impact of finding a safe place for her can be seen in her testament to Joseph. “Joseph is very good, he’s a good man,” she says smiling broadly. She talks about having to sleep in parks in the day because at night, when she was scared, she tried to keep walking, to avoid another violent attack. Another former inhabitant, Faiz from Iraq agrees. “Joseph has a big heart,” he grins.
Lafortune from Cameroon explains that Joseph takes on other people’s problems as though they were his own, in order to solve them. “Nobody chooses to be a refugee,” says Joseph seriously. He explains his motivation thus: “At times when I see the situations I went through, so paining. At least it would be good not seeing anyone else passing through that.”
How you can Help
It only seemed a dream at first but it is now a plan to go for. For school fee and study permit together 20,000 is needed. So lets put our hearts together and make this plan happen.
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