top of page
  • Writer's pictureKyle Kvamme

From homeless to hopeful: a bisexual refugee from Uganda learns new skills in Nairobi

Pictured: Aiden*, a bisexual refugee from Uganda, speaking with Barbara Ngianah, ORAM's MEAL Assistant.

Aiden*, a bisexual man from Uganda, was forced to leave his home in Uganda in November 2015. He fled to Kenya and, upon arriving in Nairobi, was homeless for six days. Aiden visited the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR) office in Nairobi to seek housing support but unfortunately, they were unable to provide him with housing. While he was UNHCR's office, Aiden met a community of fellow Ugandans who provided him with needed housing for one month.

He began selling sandals and bracelets he hand-crafted on the streets to support himself. A few months later, he found a job as a construction worker and was finally able to save up some money. With the money he saved, Aiden started a shoe business.

Aiden would purchase shoes and other items in Nairobi and regularly travel over 300 kilometers in six hours to sell his products in Kisumu, Kenya. He continued this for one year until he returned to Nairobi to complete his registration process and receive his alien card. When he received his alien card, he returned to Kisumu to continue his business.

In Kisumu, Aiden’s neighbors outed him to the police. When the police arrived at Aiden’s home, he presented his alien card, but the police wouldn’t accept it. He was asked to pay a fine of 50,000 Kenyan shillings (around $337), and after selling all his business’ inventory, he could only get 30,000 shillings (approximately $202). He was placed under arrest and spent eight months in jail.

After losing everything, Aiden returned to Nairobi, where he met The Nature Network, an LGBTIQ refugee-led community based organization (CBO). The Nature Network provided Aiden with a safe place to live while he returned to selling hand-crafted goods on the streets.

Through Aiden’s relationship with The Nature Network, Aiden participated in ORAM’s skill training program in barbering, nail technology, and body massage. “I am very happy about learning these skills and feel hopeful about the future having this experience,” Aiden shared on the skill training program. “I’ve learned a lot, and I’m confident that these skills will not only benefit me but can help me serve other refugees, asylum seekers, and the larger host community,” he said.

He completed his skills training in November 2022, seven years after he arrived in Nairobi. Aiden has chosen to continue his learning and training with ORAM. He is participating in ORAM’s new Kitchen Gardening project, empowering LGBTIQ refugees with knowledge of producing diverse and climate-smart foods in their gardens.

“I would recommend ORAM to other LGBTIQ refugees and asylum seekers in Kenya. There are many refugees and asylum seekers who are struggling and need all the support they can get,” Aiden shared with ORAM.

Thank you, Aiden, for sharing your powerful story and participating in ORAM’s programs.

Please donate today to help ORAM provide more crucial training to LGBTIQ refugees in Kenya like Aiden.

*Aiden’s name has been changed to protect his identity.

59 views0 comments


bottom of page