Good news for LGBTQ prisoners: You did it! Project Not Alone hits goal in a week.

Seven innocent LGBTQ prisoners will be freed soon and 3 more will get lawyers.

Prisoners and guards at Ebolowa Prison in Cameroon. (Photo courtesy of Actu Cameroun)
Prisoners and guards at Ebolowa Prison in Cameroon. (Photo courtesy of Actu Cameroun)

Generous donors have contributed $9,447 in the seven days since Project Not Alone announced its 2024 fund drive on May 3. That surpassed the goal of $8,122.

The total includes several hefty donations from generous individuals and the previously announced grant of £2,450 (about $3,000) from the Attitude Magazine Foundation.

As planned, the money will pay 10 prisoners’ fines and provide lawyers (working pro bono) for the three detainees who are being held pending a trial.

It will also pay for hygiene supplies and supplementary food for the prisoners in Cameroon and Nigeria during the months while they await release from their dirty prison cells, typically surviving on one filthy, poorly cooked meal per day.

The surplus $1,325 will also be used for the benefit of LGBTQ prisoners, allowing flexibility for the project to cover potential  budget overruns in inflation-battered Nigeria or to pay for as-yet-unscheduled scouting trips to identify additional prisoners who would qualify for assistance from Project Not Alone in the future.

Starting today, any future donations will be used to support the work of the St. Paul’s Foundation, the financial sponsor of Project Not Alone, which is currently short on funds because it has been concentrating on assisting the ten LGBTQ prisoners.

Please consider making a contribution to support the work of the St. Paul’s Foundation

See Also

Borrowing from its own funds, which are used to support LGBTQ rights advocacy journalists in Africa and the Caribbean, the foundation has loaned money to Project Not Alone to pay prisoners’ fines even before funds have arrived from a large pledged gift and from GoFundMe, which is scheduled to pay donated funds to the foundation on May 25.

We will keep readers informed about our progress on feeding and freeing the 10 innocent LGBTQ prisoners, who are identified here with pseudonyms for their safety:

Logo of Project Not Alone (Otavio Zuni illustration courtesy of the artist)
Logo of Project Not Alone (Otavio Zuni illustration courtesy of the artist)
  • Chrison, Amso and Keli, three lesbians who were arrested Dec. 12 when police raided their home after one woman’s mother accused the other two of luring her daughter into lesbianism. Readers have donated enough money to pay their fines, totaling $965, which should make them eligible for release from Cameroon’s Ebolowa Prison next week instead of having to remain in prison working off the fines from now until September.
  • Ekole, Anric, Boul and Asmar, four gay men who were imprisoned on homosexuality charges after police raided their card game on Jan. 15 and found lubricant in their possession. Readers have donated enough money to pay their fines, totaling $1,658, which should make them eligible for release from Ebolowa Prison by June 16 instead of having to remain in prison working off the fines until October. They will leave prison even earlier than mid-June if a lawyer working with Project Not Alone is successful in negotiating for their earlier release.
Image representing Yane and Hage in Ebolowa Prison. (Image generated by DeepAI)
Image representing Yane and Hage in Ebolowa Prison. (Image generated by DeepAI)
  • Yane and Hage, two lesbians who were arrested Feb. 13 on the basis of complaints from their neighbors. They have been held at Ebolowa Prison since then, awaiting trial. A Cameroonian lawyer has agreed to work with them pro bono, with Project Not Alone paying an estimated $829 in legal expenses such as filing fees, prison access fees and document copying charges. Project Not Alone is prepared to pay their fines if Yane and Hage are tried, convicted and fined. In the meantime, we will deliver food and hygiene supplies to them.
  • Ben, a gay man who has been held without trial at Nigeria’s Port Harcourt Maximum Security Prison since February. In conjunction with Project Not Alone, an attorney working pro bono will represent him. During this process, we will deliver food and hygiene supplies to him.
Word cloud showing the names of the 36 prisoners for whom Project Not Alone has won early release.
Word cloud shows the names of the 36 prisoners for whom Project Not Alone has won early release during 2019-2023. More names will soon be joining the crowd.

This year’s initiative follows previous successful efforts on behalf of LGBTQ prisoners — initially only in Cameroon: in Yaoundé (food deliveries to three prisoners) in 2018, in the northern Garoua area and in Bertoua in the east (food for six prisoners and early release after their fines were paid in 2019 and 2020), then back in Yaoundé in 2021 and 2022 (food for 18 prisoners and early release after their fines were paid), and the 12 prisoners in 2023 (food and early release) in Bafoussam and in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

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