At any given time, Rainbow Railroad is working on 30-50 open cases, confirming their details, putting them in touch with local resources and helping them identify safe routes for escape. As the situation worsens in many parts of the world, these numbers continue to grow.
From a very young age growing up in Barbados, Michelle knew she was different than others. When she turned 16, her mom died, and life got very difficult as an LGBTQI person. She ran away from home and ended up living on the streets. She constantly faced discriminated and frequently faced violent attacks.
In 2017, she contacted Rainbow Railroad, who helped her find a way out.
“When I got on a plane for the first time, and arrived in the UK, it was overwhelming! I’d never been around so many people. I was linked with people and resources to help me deal with the depression and anxiety that was so bad. Today, I have safe housing, am receiving medical care and therapy, and can actually dream of finding a woman to be my wife. I’m so grateful to the team at Rainbow Railroad for making this possible.”
When the couple arrived in Toronto from war-torn Syria in 2016, Toronto’s Pride festivities were in full swing. Two years later, now safe and happy together downtown, the couple recall the glorious moment they arrived in Canada thanks to Rainbow Railroad.
In Syria, the couple stayed closeted and kept their relationship a secret for their safety. Being gay is illegal there. The couple faced constant danger if anyone found out. Eventually they decided to leave so they can be together.
Now in Canada, they live proudly, and safely, together.
When they were connected to a Rainbow Railroad Private Sponsorship Team, they got a call from their team who told them there was an apartment waiting for them in Toronto.
Mazen and Tarek say they are so grateful to Rainbow Railroad for making it possible for them to have a life together.
The world began to hear about the horror unfolding in Chechnya through news reports by Elena Milashina and her colleague Irina Gordienko in Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta in April 2017. After weeks of investigating and gaining the trust of sources, the journalists uncovered evidence that gay men were being detained, tortured, and even killed in an anti-homosexual purge. Rainbow Railroad immediately leapt into action, partnering with the Russian LGBT Network, which had set up safe houses in Russia for people who managed to escape.
Khalid says he was terrified, but took a leap of faith and contacted Rainbow Railroad. He wondered if the people offering to help were possibly working with the police.
When he arrived in Toronto, with the help of Rainbow Railroad, he knew he could finally start living his life.
“I’m so thankful to be able to live in Toronto, a welcoming city, where my sexual orientation doesn’t matter. I’m free!”
Rainbow Railroad was able to bring 57 Chechens to safety, many arriving in Canada.“I have safe housing, I’m learning English, working part-time, and enrolled in a program studying marketing. Please let everyone know I’m so grateful for their help!”