Samson, a 31-year-old gay Nigerian man who fled to the U.S. after receiving violent threats for providing health services to LGBT persons in Nigeria, has inherited a house in Chicago as a thank-you for his kindness and hard work.
In Nigeria, Samson (not his real name) volunteered his time with many grassroots and international NGO’s to support and provide services to HIV- positive LGBT people. An activist working with LGBT Nigerians in Chicago told Samson’s story, which begins with threats and ends with unexpected generosity.
As a result of Samson’s work in Nigeria, he started receiving violent threats. He decided that he had no choice but to flee to the United States and seek asylum there.
Upon his arrival in the United States, he got help from a community of other Nigerians in Chicago who helped him to get an asylum lawyer, taught him how to navigate the city, and provided him with housing.
Chicago residents helped LGBT refugees rebuild their lives in their new hometown through programs such as the Center for Integration and Courageous Living and the Chicago LGBT Asylum Support Program (CLASP).
CLASP was formed in January 2014 in response to the passage of anti-gay laws in Nigeria and Uganda. John Ademola Adewoye, co-founder of CLASP, said that many LGBT people in those countries fled to the United States because of those laws. The Broadway United Methodist Church and the Center for Integration and Courageous Living worked together to form CLASP, he said.
With encouragement from CLASP, Samson got his work permit as soon as he could and took a job caring for a disabled 86-year-old woman.
Samson treated the woman well. She could barely get from her bed to the living room of her house and, for a few months, was unable to leave her house. Samson prepared her meals and made sure she took her medicine at the right times. She and Samson got along well.
With his income from that job, Samson rented an apartment of his own.
About a year after he started working for her, the woman died. In her will, she left Samson her three-bedroom house with a finished basement.
Samson now works as a volunteer with CLASP and the Center for Integration and Courageous Living.