"Be a rainbow in someone else's cloud" - Maya Angelou
**UPDATE!** We have surpassed our goal! Thank you to everyone who has supported Soso during her difficult time. We have been able to meet all of our goals. If Soso and I look tired in this video, it is because we spent the day moving her into her NEW APARTMENT!! We have been able to secure safe, affordable housing, as well as hire a translator for Soso to recieve formal counselling. Your outpour of love and support has changed her life. Note: Soso is edited because she mistakingly gave details as to the location of her new apartment. She asked it be removed for her safety.
We need your help to support a community member who has experienced EXTREME violence and injustice. Please take a moment to read and share Soso’s story.
Soso's journey to Canada was travelled on a winding road through unimaginable hardship. Soso worked in a hospital in Bagdad, Iraq during the war between American forces and Iraqi militants. On her way home, she was kidnapped by militants. She was held captive and tortured for days. This torture included watching the execution of two gay Iraqi men. She escaped to Syria where she received treatment for biological warfare.
Her crime? Being a trans woman.
In 2012, she immigrated to Canada as a United Nations sponsored refugee.
Upon her arrival in Canada, Soso continued to experience extreme violence. The property manager of her building received numerous complaints for allowing someone 'like her' to move into the building. After 5 months of being in Canada, Soso's apartment was set on fire as she slept. She escaped by jumping from her second floor balcony.
Soso has lived in fear since the arson. She has reported 9 assaults to the police including being intentionally hit by a car. She has suffered serious injuries from this assault. Unfortunately, due to the harassment she faces at the hands of the police, she no longer bothers to report the daily violence she encounters at the hands of her neighbours.
In February 2014, Soso was accused of a crime. She was reprimanded into custody to await trial. Alone in Canada, she had no one to sign her residential assurity to be released on bail. As a result, she remained in SOLITARY CONFINEMENT for 4 MONTHS awaiting trial in a men's prison.
During her trial, the prosecution offered to stay the charges after hearing the blatantly transphobic testimony. Upon her release, Soso was served with an eviction notice for allowing her rent to lapse for 4 months during her time in prison (without charges).
The toll of this constant harassment, violence and injustice is evident on Soso's face, but remarkably, has not touched her spirit. With limited English and few words, she expresses her gratitude, sincerity and loving kindness to all those she encounters. Her positivity is remarkable, as it is infectious.
Request for support:
Rent in arrears: $2,573.80
We are asking for your support to help pay her rent in arrears before her hearing at the Landlord and Tenant Board on July 29th.
Immigration of Canada loan: $1,102.12
We are also seeking support to help her repay her immigration loan for her to start her life in Canada, burden-free.
First and last month’s rent: $1,200.00
Moving expenses: $300.00
Soso lives in an area in which she is attacked daily. The people who tried to murder her, as well as laid false charges, know where she lives. Her friends have also been threatened with arson. She comes to see us with fresh bruises. We are sincerely concerned for her safety. We ask you for your support to help her move to a different area.
Soso needs your support to help make her humble dream of living without fear a reality. Your contribution will save Soso from homelessness, where she will most certainly experience further victimization. More importantly, it will send her the message that she has not suffered in vain. Show Soso she has a community in Canada!
The Well, LGBTQ Wellness Centre of Hamilton will hold funds for Soso. If you would like to learn more about The Well, please visit us online at www.thewellhamilton.ca. To make a cash donation offline, or would like to offer an item for "Reward Levels" below (artwork, services, etc.), please contact Poe Liberado at [phone redacted] or via email (above).
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