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Sara is a lesbian refugee from Uganda. When she was outed as lesbian, she was removed from education, beaten, humiliated and ultimately forced into a marriage with an older man.
In the marriage, she was victim of “corrective” rape and domestic violence.
After a few years in this situation, Sara, who has a child from the marriage, managed to escape and leave the country to seek sanctuary in the UK. Fleeing Uganda, Sara had no means to take her child with her.
While being lonely, isolated and suffering from depression after her traumatic experiences, Sara approached MRI further learning about Sista Sista, a peer led support group which provides a safe space for LBT refugee women.
Sara was afraid, she felt that after years of hiding her sexuality, repression, violence, alienation and going through the asylum system, she had lost herself.
MRI supported and encouraged Sara to attend her first workshop.
Sista Sista’s workshops are a safe space for LBT refugee women who have been victims of persecution and violence because of their sexual identity. They come from countries where homosexuality is criminalised, and suffered additional stress and discriminations as refugees in the UK. All these instances led them to lose self-esteem and confidence.
Sista Sista’s workshops focus on rebuild LBT refugee women’s self-esteem and confidence, empowering them to realise their potential. Through confidence building workshops they are equipped with new skills to cope with stress, anxiety and trauma. These workshops also empower LBT refugee women to regain their confidence and independence enabling them to access education, housing, medical care and employment.
Despite hesitation in participating, Sara attended her first workshop, and hearing the stories of her peers who had similar life experiences, she started opening up and sharing her own experiences.
The following workshops were aimed at building self-esteem and confidence and Sara was able to speak about the violence she had suffered in the past.
The workshops allowed Sara to start her journey of healing and empowerment and she was encouraged to join MRI’s monthly women’s peer support group, where she could see other women who attended the workshops and establish bonds with other women who shared similar stories.
Sara recently attended a hiring and employment workshop and she engaged with MRI to get one to one support in tackling her housing issues.
MRI’s hope is to support Sara in securing employment, enabling her to step out of poverty.
For more information or to join the LBTI refugee women group please e-mail the group facilitator Bliss Namuddu at firstname.lastname@example.org
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