Umbaya left Tanzania after attending an LGBTQ+ party which resulted in problems with the authorities. With the support of an agent, he travelled to the UK. Upon arrival, however, the relationship between Umbaya and the agent changed. Taken advantage of, Umbaya was forced to work for this individual, and locked up with no access to the outside world.

Eventually a van driver helped him escape these conditions. In December 2022, he met with his Migrant Help adviser Smeena for the first time, who has since become a huge source of support for Umbaya in building his life in the UK.

Smeena put Umbaya in touch with the Lived Experience Advisory Panels (LEAP) team at Migrant Help as she knew “he’d make a difference” and through the LEAP programme, where “experts by experience” provide vital input into the charity’s services, he’s had the opportunity to travel around the UK. In September this year he delivered his first ever speech, on the topic of modern-day slavery., Smeena says: “The confidence he had to stand up there and say how proud he was is an achievement in itself… he held his own and it was brilliant to see”.

Now in the UK, Umbaya hopes to revisit his studies and do a course in hospitality management. Following his encounters with Smeena, he is also considering a career with Migrant Help to use his lived experience to support other displaced individuals and “give back”.

Smeena has managed to get Umbaya, a keen cyclist, a bike and cycling has also had a positive impact on his mental health and wellbeing. Umbaya also has a great love of reading and this has helped him improve his English skills.