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  • Writer's pictureKyle Kvamme

A new cycle of vocational skills training changes LGBTIQ refugees' lives in Kenya

Updated: Jul 31, 2023


Pictured: An LGBTIQ refugee threading a sewing machine.


Earlier this month, ORAM called for applications for LGBTIQ refugees to participate in various vocational skills training programs in Nairobi and Kakuma Refugee Camp. This is ORAM's first open call for skills training in 2023, and we were thrilled to receive over one hundred applications of interest from queer refugees across Kenya.


ORAM is proud to offer LGBTIQ refugees in Kenya a wide range of vocational trainings in cosmetology, catering and food production, baking and pastry, graphic design, photography and videography, fashion design and tailoring, mobile phone repair, and digital freelancing. The training will continue for three to four months, and trainees who complete the courses will celebrate with a graduation ceremony.


For Farah, a gay man from Somalia, vocational training in fashion design and tailoring provides him with a new opportunity to pursue his dream.


"I want to work hard to become a fashion designer since it has always been my dream," he told ORAM. "I never got to do this because I didn't get freedom. I've always drawn fashion design ideas that come to my head, and this course will help me to actualize my ideas," he said.


Farah's training is at Below Cloud97, a Kenyan queer-led fashion design and tailoring business. ORAM's approach to vocational skills training is to partner with safe and reliable professional institutions in the region that are experts in their field. Our training center partners are a resource for trainees and often help LGBTIQ refugees find employment in safe establishments.


Julie*, a trans woman from Uganda, dreams of using her newly learned skills to create safe and inclusive spaces for other trans women. She is enrolled at Lintons Beauty Academy and is pursuing a certificate in beauty therapy, focusing on makeup, nail technology, and massage therapy. One day she hopes to open a trans-friendly beauty parlor so the community can express themselves through makeup.


“One of my goals in the future is to create safe spaces where trans people can work because it's difficult to find jobs as a trans person,” she shared.


Pictured: An LGBTIQ refugee working at a beauty parlor.


LGBTIQ refugees in Kakuma Refugee Camp also enrolled in various skills training a few weeks ago. One queer refugee participating in photography and videography training has already learned some skills in the second week. “I know many queers are going to benefit from this,” one trainee told ORAM.


Vocational skills training is a component of ORAM's economic empowerment program, the organization's largest project. Through learning practical skills and securing employment, LGBTIQ refugees who have participated in ORAM's economic empowerment program earn $100 a month on average. This income helps them and the community towards self-reliance and a better quality of life.


ORAM wishes all the LGBTIQ refugees participating in this cycle of vocational skills training the best of luck with their specific program. Keep your eyes open for more stories from our trainees and the status of this training cycle in future newsletters and on our social media channels.



*Julie’s name has been changed to protect her identity.

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