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Refugee independence support organization svg4446
Advocacy Climate change Livelihoods
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Refugees Independence Support Organization (RISO) is a Nairobi-based nonprofit dedicated to aiding Intersex, Transgender, Gender Non-Conforming (ITGNC) refugees and asylum seekers facing severe hardships. These challenges include income, housing, food, and healthcare issues, compounded by limited access to UNHCR protection services. RISO's formation was prompted by escalating violence, human rights abuses, and arbitrary detentions of ITGNC individuals in urban areas. With 150 current members, this number is expected to rise due to oppressive laws and pervasive homophobia in Africa. Despite minimal funding, RISO has built strong social support networks, especially during the pandemic, organizing fundraisers to provide food, rent, and bedding. They also create employment opportunities within the beauty and grooming industry. RISO's leadership, a five-member secretariat, shares a vision of improving the quality of life for all, regardless of their status or beliefs. The organization aims to enhance the welfare of ITGNC refugees and asylum seekers by promoting autonomy, active participation, and partnerships with other organizations. They document refugee stories and address key issues like affordable housing, food assistance, and medical care, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Collaborations with entities such as Alight, ORAM, Safe Place International, IRC, and the Refugee Coalition of East Africa have been established. RISO also offers referrals to safe houses for those facing insecurity. Challenges include limited funding, inadequate documentation for urban refugees, restricted access to medical services, food shortages (especially among those with HIV/AIDS), transportation expenses for government appointments, and ongoing persecution and arrests of ITGNC community members. In response, RISO has planned livelihood projects like beauty parlors, poultry farming, fast-food outlets, kiosks, and craftsmanship initiatives. They intend to continue their rent and food relief efforts. RISO maintains an active online presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram under the handle "RISO," with a particular focus on the "Livelihood Beauty Parlor.