Tell us about yourself: who are you and what do you do?
I am Ugandan, Transgender refugee who lives now in Kenya. I came to live in Kenya in 2015 and from then on I started working as a social change agent in Kenya. As a social change agent, I was in charge of mobilizing Refugees. In this, I had to link Refugees to the various social services which included getting full documentation; going for HIV Testing at various health services centers including Kenyatta National Referral Hospital; aiding in assessment and interpretation work with UNHCR/HIAS. But, before that I had worked with grassroots in various ways in Uganda. First, I worked with the National Referral Hospital’s Skin Clinic, under the Most at Risk Populations’ Initiative (MARPI) as a Peer Educator. Secondly, I was a mobilizer for a self-help group called Youth on Rock Foundation; I was the Secretary for another Self-help Organization called Come-Out Post Test Club (COPTEC); and I was also a mobiliser for Icebreakers Uganda (IBU).
These introduced me to the needs of marginalized communities. Also, this experience got me enough skills to work under Dr. Stella Nnyanzi as a Field Work Officer for a project called Law, Gender and Sexuality (LGS) which lasted for two years. Then, from there the Doctor left to join a newer post at the Makerere Institute of Social Research (MISR). I also got an opportunity to join her there. I worked as a Research Assistant then. All in all I worked for four years under Dr. Stella Nnyanzi. Then, I left Uganda and came to stay in Kenya. I co-founded the Nature Network after I realized many of the refugees were seeking support from me. The support ranged from conversation, companionship, forming a social support group which we called Nature-Network which eventually got funding for group activities. Nature-Network is modelled on a Family-Based Therapy Model where we take on the titles of respect in a family unit. So, I had to take the responsibility to become the full-time leader of Nature Network.
How does your research or your work connect to activism?
Right now, I do various activities. These include managing Nature Network; we have a coalition under which all organizations are joined. Nature-Network is part of this coalition. I work there as the Field officer. I got fortunate and now work with a firm specializing in Digital Media Organization called None On Record (NOR). I work as a Personal Assistant to the Executive Director. This has helped me improve on my management and documentation skills. I use these both at the job as well as at the Nature Network.
My activism includes: Ensuring safe space in form of housing support toward Refugees; Nutrition support; mobilizing life support resources; providing a space for continued interaction among Refugees; ensuring there is formal documentation for Refugees to avoid arbitrary arrests; ensuring we have an open arm reception for New Refugees; engaging in networking with other service providers to address targeted needs; and connecting with well-wishers and friends with whom we interact on a number of levels.
Why is activism important to you and what do you hope to achieve between now and the 16 Days of 2020?
When I read about 16 Days of 2020, it reminded me of the incidences of vulnerability and risks faced by marginalized communities including: LGBTIQ+; People Living with HIV; Refugees; Victims of Torture; Victims of Rape; Victims of Gender Based Violence; and Orphans and Vulnerable Children. Secondly, it reminds me that there are solutions to the problems people face. What I hope to achieve between now and the 16 Days of 2020 are the following:
- Participate and be able to paint the whole world “Orange.” This way, I shall contribute to the conversation on eradicating rape and gender based violence in our communities.
- To network with all those organizations working to eradicate rape and gender based violence.