Encouragement for 3 victims of Cameroon’s homophobia

The Not Alone / Pas Seul project not only provides needed food for nearly malnourished gay prisoners in Cameroon. It also allows donors to send words of encouragement to those prisoners. Here is what donor Kenneth Fyrsterling wrote to them.

he Not Alone / Pas Seul campaign provides food for 3 emaciated prisoners in Cameroon whose only crime is being gay. Further support is needed.
The Not Alone / Pas Seul campaign provides food for 3 emaciated prisoners in Cameroon whose only crime is being gay. Further support is needed.

Albert, Noah and Olivier are the only prisoners at the Yaoundé Central Prison who were convicted for breaking Cameroon’s law against homosexual activity. They are scheduled to be released in late September.

Before then, one further delivery of food is planned, if readers again donate necessary funds. (To pitch in, click the “Donate” button on the Facebook page of the St. Paul’s Foundation or the “Donate” button below, which links to PayPal.)

HELP FEED GAY PRISONERS. All donations through Aug. 17 go to the Not Alone / Pas Seul project.


For more information about the three men and the Not Alone / Pas Seul program, see this blog’s report on the first delivery of food.

Below is the English translation of Fyrsterling’s letter, which is in French:

Dear Albert, Noah and Olivier,

My name is Kenneth, I am one of the donors. I learned about your difficult situation via 76crimes.com, which moved me to want to try to help you. I am 41 years old, I was born in Denmark, and am currently living in Luxembourg. I work as a translator for the European Union, even though my academic degree is in Human Geography.

Now with only a few weeks left of your unjust imprisonment, as you prepare yourselves for release, please remember this: You have done nothing wrong by being yourselves! Once are free, I would say that the best strategy for you to achieve security and safety for yourselves is to try to make allies, both locally and abroad. Maybe someone in your family you can trust? Or a neighbour, or a former teacher?

No doubt that what happened to you is unfair and unjustified, but perhaps you can use this experience to gain inner strength and strengthen the bonds of loyalty between you? Whatever happens, I hope you will quickly regain hope and joy. You are young and full of potential. Please have faith that there are plenty of decent and compassionate people in this world. And don’t forget to celebrate your victories, even discreetly. The fact that you have persevered until today, that’s already a remarkable victory!

As for me, I went through a personal crisis this past winter, but at least my safety, health and financial situation was never under any threat. And so when I read about your plight online, I said to myself “that could have been me!”. So I decided to trust that this charitable initiative was not a scam and that I should do something to alleviate your unjust suffering. Making a small difference is better than doing nothing at all.

I realize that I am very fortunate and privileged to be living in a time and a place where LGBT persons are able to live their lives like any other citizen. I myself have lived in ten different countries, all of which are LGBT-friendly. My country of birth, Denmark, was the first country to legalize same-sex civil unions (the precursor to same-sex marriage).

My current country of residence is Luxembourg, a tiny country in which both the Prime Minister and the leader of the largest opposition party are gay men, each legally married to their respective husband.

The reason why I am mentioning these facts is simply to illustrate that gay women and men are present everywhere in society — whether hidden or not. And that most of us are indistinguishable from the general population. Perhaps these words could help you in a respectful dialogue on the delicate subject of homosexuality that you might engage in with someone open-minded (a friend, a family member, a politician, a journalist …? ). But of course, first you have to guarantee your own safety, health and well-being.

Here is a photo of three gay people, taken during the Luxembourgish LGBT Pride celebration (gaymat.lu) earlier this summer. On the left that’s me, in the middle is an Estonian friend of mine, and on the right is the Prime Minister, Mr. Xavier Bettel.

During this year's LGBT Pride celebration in Luxemboug,donor Kenneth Fyrsterling (left) poses with a friend visiting from Estonia and Luxembourg's prime minister, Xavier Bettel (right). (Photo courtesy of Kenneth Fyrsterling)
During this year’s LGBT Pride celebration in Luxemboug, donor Kenneth Fyrsterling (left) poses with a friend from Estonia and Luxembourg’s prime minister, Xavier Bettel (right). (Photo courtesy of Kenneth Fyrsterling)

I wish all three of you lots of courage, optimism and love, and I hope that your dream of opening a restaurant will materialize and that it will bring you success and satisfaction. Please be careful, stay strong and stay human!

My warmest wishes,

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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