A posed portrait of Lucky (right) and John (left), Ugandan refugees living in Nairobi. Lucky and John lived together in Uganda - until John’s parents found out they were in a relationship and attacked Lucky.They hid with a friend and saved enough money to flee to Kenya. They were registered separately as refugees and they were able to find some sanctuary in Nature Network. “The life now in Nairobi, because of the Nature Network we have, the little money we are getting, it help me someway, somehow, and the Nature Network come in, they do pay us rent here, they buy us food.” Faith has been an important part of keeping them strong through their trials.
“If it wasn't God's help, we would have already died, because I remember the time when the parents came to attack him [Lucky], and then, they wanted to kill him, if it was not God, he would have already died, but God knows us, God loves us, so he managed to protect us all the way from Uganda up to here, we are together.” Kenya, October 2017. 
Nature Network is a Nairobi based organization providing LGBTQI+ refugees in Kenya with support through safe temporary housing, health services, food and security. Nature Network has advocated to police over 50 times, responding to hate crimes, and runs a WhatsApp group of safety tips. Refugees supported have come from Uganda, Somalia, Burundi, Rwanda and Sudan. 
Stigma, discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation means that access to HIV services is yet another challenge for this community. As a result, LGBTQI+ people in Africa are 19 times more likely to be living with HIV, with prevalence rates in many countries exceeding 10-20%. To respond to this, the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) built a quick, nimble, and easily accessible $10m fund which can get money to the most effective grassroots organisations doing some of the most important work among the most-at-risk LGBT groups in Sub-Saharan Africa.  A Rapid Response mechanism administered by the International HIV / AIDS Alliance quickly disburses smaller sums to respond to emergencies where LGBT people are in jeopardy. The fund is active in 30 countries and Nature Network in Kenya is one project that has received the fund.  
Robin Hammond/NOOR for Witness Change

Lucky & John /

It was the year 2013 1st April, when I met Lucky at the birthday party of a friend of mine. When I looked at him, I liked him, and he had all the qualities that I wanted for someone to love. For example, he was handsome. And caring, loving. So that first made me fall in love with him. Asking him his phone number, he gave it to me, and I started calling him, even dating him seriously, sending him messages, and we started even meeting in defined places. So, one time, I told him that I want a serious relationship.

He welcomed the idea, and he was happy about it, because he was staying with his uncle. By then, his parents had already died in a car accident, both of them. So, he needed someone who could take care of him, someone who could show him love, care, and makes him forget the stresses of being an orphan.

So, we started staying together, renting our house, as a couple, till in 2014, late December, on a Christmas day, when my parents realized that we’re gays. They based on their ways, how like it was. They were even used to treat Lucky, and the way he used to behave, like a lady. I called him my sweetheart. I could call him all sweet things. So one time, they came to the place where we were staying, and by just, I was not around, so they attacked him. When they attacked him, he managed to escape. He ran away, and then, he told me, “Don’t come back home, because even me have left home, ’cause your parents went there to kill me. They realized that we are gays.’

I had a friend of mine named Ginger. I directed him, and then I told him, “Go there, and hide yourself. I’ll find you there.” Later in two hours, I also went to Ginger, where I found Lucky, to my friend’s place, Andy. We managed to stay there for some good month. So, in Feb, we hadn’t enough money to come to Nairobi together, so we had to let him come to Kenya, Nairobi, where he came to stay in Feb, 2015.

And I also followed him on 16th April, 2016. For him, he had already registered by the government, and the UN, but by the time I arrived here, the government had already closed. That is in 2016. They could not register anymore, because they told me, they haven’t yet opened, so they took me to Kakuma where I stayed for six months, and the situation there was not good. It was so worse, like in terms of fitting even the people being homophobic on gays, ’cause most of they are Sudanese and Somalians. So, we used to talk, Lucky and I called, and I told him the situation. He connected me to the Natures Network, who give me the support to bring me back to Nairobi.”

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