Donation update: Rainbow Railroad helps more than 50 escape state-sponsored violence in Chechnya

Rainbow Railroad Success Story

This year, we were able to provide Rainbow Railroad with a $50K donation (which will be used to help LGBTQ+ individuals escape from hostile environments) to support their very important programming. Take a moment to watch this video.

Posted by Community One Foundation on Monday, November 20, 2017

In June 2017, Community One Foundation donated $50,000 to Rainbow Railroad –¬† a Toronto-based organization helping LGBTQI people worldwide facing persecution and violence find safety – to help rescue gay men amidst the growing state-sponsored violence in Chechnya.

“We discovered in April that over 200 individuals were being detained in various facilities,” said¬†Rainbow Railroad Executive Director Kimahli Powell. “There was an organization in Russia trying to establish safe houses and a hotline for people to escape; we realized that we had a unique opportunity to help.”

After establishing a partnership with a Russian LGBT network, Rainbow Railroad got right to work, but struggled with resources. “To be honest, we got started at this work trying to cobble together what resources we had from existing revenue,” Powell said, crediting the donation for allowing them to move forward quickly and increase the scale of the initiative.

Rainbow Railroad Executive Director Kimahli Powell speaks at the 2017 Rainbow Grants ceremony after his organization received a $50,000 donation from the Community One Foundation. (Photo: Kyle Burton)

“That $50,000 commitment, as surprising as it was, came at a crucial time when we were engaging with the Canadian government to help relocate individuals,” Powell said. “It made an immediate, tangible difference. We received that notification in June of 2017 and the first person to arrive in Canada came on Friday, June 23. I remember the day specifically because two days later, that individual marched in Pride quietly with Rainbow Railroad.”

Powell spoke of the success of the initiative overall, and how donations played a vital role. “It was because of the support of the Community One Foundation that we were able to help relocate over 40 individuals to Canada,” he said, noting the number was higher including those who relocated to other countries. “That’s a tangible difference that Community One Foundation and its supporters made. You directly saved lives of young LGBTQI persons, who six months ago were just living their lives and faced horrific conditions. Really it’s a story of community in action, and these individuals are safer and have a shot at a new life because of this support.”

Click here to donate to Community One so we can continue supporting the important work done by organizations such as Rainbow Railroad.