Kaitani Bariyanga, who attended Refugee Council’s trainings in Uganda: “I thought saving money was not for refugees”

Kaitani pitelee käsissään heinää lehmälleen.

Uganda is one of the world’s largest refugee-hosting countries. The country has more than 1.5 million refugees (2023) who have fled war and violent conflict from neighbouring countries. Uganda has been hosting large numbers of refugees since the 1960s, but the escalation of the conflict in The Democratic Republic of the Congo has multiplied the number of people arriving across the western border. Despite this, the country’s refugee policy is exceptional; the state guarantees refugees the same rights and public services as its own citizens, except for the right to vote. The Finnish Refugee Council, which has been operating in the country since 1997, supports refugees in 10 different refugee settlement areas.

Kaitani Bariyanga, the father of a large family, was forced to flee his home in Congo due to violent unrests. In his home country, Kaitani had to fear daily that fighting would reach his village and his family home would either be robbed, or they would be killed. “My typical day was a nightmare”, Kaitani recalls.

One night, an armed conflict broke out in Kaitani’s home village, and he was forced to escape and leave everything behind to save his life. “I lost everything, my farm, my animals, and my property. Even some of my relatives died during the war. I felt that my life had come to an end, and I did not know if I would make it to Uganda alive”, he says.

Kaitani received support from the UN’s refugee organization UNHCR and the Ugandan government to escape. He and his family ended up in Uganda’s Nakivale refugee settlement, where they are still living. Nakivale, which is located about 200 kilometers from the capital Kampala, is the oldest refugee settlement in Africa.

Kaitani says that his life has taken a turn for the better in a safer environment. He has participated in financial literacy training and entrepreneurship skill training organized by the Finnish Refugee Council.

Kaitani has learned many important skills needed to make a living through Financial Literacy courses. For example, he has learned how to save money instead of spending it all immediately. He has also learned to put savings in a bank, where they are safer. These skills have made it easier to meet the family’s basic needs, even if something unexpected happens.

After taking the entrepreneurship course, Kaitani joined a savings and loan group in his community. The Refugee Council supports the establishment of such groups within refugee communities. Their purpose is to lend participants capital for everyday needs or to support their livelihoods. With the help of the savings group, Kaitani managed to buy his first cow. “The cow allows my children to drink milk every day and makes it easier to raise money for their school fees. I am going to save more money to buy more cows“, the father plans.

Kaitani hopes that other members of his community will be able to attend the Financial Literacy courses. “The knowledge and skills I have learned through the Finnish Refugee Council have taught me to empower myself. For example, I can now save from the little money I get from harvests, and I know that in the near future, I will be able to afford to buy and manage livestock for my livelihood.”

Kaitani says that all the participants in the savings group have started saving money for their future. He sees himself and his community in a new light. “I used to think that saving money was not for refugees. Now I know that anyone can save money for their own benefit, regardless of their status. Even a small amount of money is enough if you plan well how to spend it”, he says. Securing one’s financial situation not only creates hope for the future but is a very concrete way to contribute to the survival and quality of life of refugees.

Finnish Refugee Council is the only international organization in Uganda that specialises in adult education among refugees. In addition to financial management- and livelihood training, we organize literacy- and language trainings for refugees in their own languages in various refugee camps in Uganda. Local Ugandans are also welcome to attend these courses. Our aim is to provide refugees with the skills and tools they need to secure their livelihoods and have a greater impact in their own lives and survival in the future.

Read more about our work in Uganda.


By donating you support adult education and employment of refugees and help secure livelihoods for families in Uganda.

Examples on how different amounts can support refugees’ well-being, independence and participation in the society:

  • with 15 €, one refugee can participate in entrepreneurship training
  • with 52 €, a refugee learns how to read
  • with 300 €, a refugee gets a vocational education