The life of a refugee before and during the COVID-19 pandemic

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Ngendakumana John Baptist is a refugee from Burundi and now lives with his family in the Nakivale refugee camp in Uganda.

Fig 1: Ngendakumana John Baptist with researcher Kamikazi Nelly

He started several businesses but did not see results fast enough. Through L-IFT’s diaries research he can now track that his business is slowly growing, which gives him confidence and helps him persevere.

Our researcher Kamikazi Nelly has been visiting him every other week since August 2019. He tells her all the transactions he wrote in his book and she enters into the diaries app.

Fig 2: Ngendakumana John Baptist examining his incomes and expenses


Nelly’s interviews have changed my life. Before, I thought being a refugee meant waiting for support, to eat and sleep until you died. But today, I have hope. I have learnt that, in life, you should plan and make sure you don’t overspend. 

I used to mix up expenses and incomes and I didn’t know if I was making a profit or a loss. Since I met Nelly and she gave me the book to record my earnings, I see how my business is growing. 


Watch this video to learn more about Ngendakumana John Baptist, his hardships, experiences and hopes:


Ngendakumana John Baptist has a small shop and also grows vegetables. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, his hope was to open a small restaurant. Now, the situation has changed and lot. 

Fig 3: With his wife, in front of his shop


In this video, he talks about the impact the COVID-19 measures are having on his business and on his life:




This blog is written using data from the RISE project, funded by Opportunity International, with consulting services from PHB.

PHB collaborates with international development agencies, banks, regulators and other impact makers around the world to assess, implement and scale digital interventions. We leverage the expertise of our team to support the design of digital finance ecosystems that can strengthen the resilience of communities in need. To learn more about PHB activities, publications and training, visit