Indeed, the past year was challenging, heartbreaking and exhausting much of the time with issues ranging from COVID-19 impacts, Elections, Human Rights, to Diversity and inclusion etc.  I pray and hope that at the end of the day we can still persevere through it all.
Our Motherland Uganda went through what has been the most contentious election year and even post elections, the country is still grappling with the after effects of the elections. On 11/3/2020 UNAA Issued a Statement post violence where we stated that, “Among the UNAA objectives is the objective; “To counsel and advise relevant governments on policies and regulations affecting UNAA membership”.

UNAA achieves this objective by engaging the Ugandan Policy makers on issues that affect us, hence the Press release Statement, requesting for a free, fair, peaceful and calm election in Uganda in 2021, since the Ugandan Electoral Commission had just cleared eleven (11) Presidential Candidates as of 11/3/2020” Click here for Full Statement.

As  Non-Profit Organization, the Ugandan North American Association is restricted from engaging in any form of political campaign as per IRS governing rules and regulations The Restriction of Political Campaign Intervention by Section 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Organizations | Internal Revenue Service (irs.gov). And with that, we CANNOT commit the organization in supporting any political candidate or campaign. We CAN however speak on matters that are of concern such as Human Rights abuse as we did in the statement, issued on 11/18/2020 where we strongly condemned and discouraged the acts of violence, lawlessness and acts of impunity by police officers.  There has been more of these acts even after elections and we continue to call upon the Ugandan Government to put a stop to these violent acts and also bring to justice those that are involved in these acts of impunity.
Click here for Full Statement.

The UNAA Membership comprises of Members that support the different Political parties in Uganda, some in support of the current administration and others in support of the opposing parties. UNAA’s Leadership remains objective in order to serve best her members by engaging the Policy makers and those that govern the entities where change is most needed. Releasing of Statements after every tragic event especially with matters of Human rights abuse and police brutality, hasn’t been as effective as desired and some of these acts have continued to prevail post Elections.

But in all that has been written and conversed, Hope prevails and there’s reason to be grateful and strengthened. We came together as a community displaying the spirit of Ubuntu when needed most especially when we lost our community members to diseases, accidents and especially during the Pandemic, when folks were stuck here in the US and couldn’t fly back to Uganda, when people lost jobs and couldn’t afford meals. UNAA worked with Community Leaders around North America, helping those communities that submitted relief fund applications through the COVID Relief fund distribution.
As we continue to face the COVID-19 pandemic of disease and an epidemic of ignorance, I urge you to choose to Celebrate science. Preach science. Teach science. And support science and let’s overcome the negativity that comes with the propaganda to stop the fight of the disease and keep us healthy. Some people have given testimonies that this pandemic brought them closer as families and that they were able to stay home with their loved ones and enjoy quieter times with family. Online platforms such as Zoom became the norm and new modus operandi by many entities and UNAA was not left out, having held our first Online Convention, which was viewed by over 60K people around the world and also built long term partnerships with current and future partners. Kudos to the UNAA Leadership on this milestone.

Here are some of the achievements that my Administration has achieved as it transforms UNAA into a Progressive Service Driven Membership Organization through Rebranding and Revitalizing UNAA even with the hurdle of the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Introducing the UNAA Life Insurance and Repatriation Program.
  • Restoration of UNAA’s registration status with the state by making sure that all taxes were filed and are up to date.
  • UNAA has formed partnerships with entities to expand services to our members such as Scholarships. The Partnership between Thunderbird School of Global Management of Arizona State University has resulted into Scholarship Awards worth $60 000 and this was initiated in February 2020.
  • Advocated for Diaspora rights through Meetings with Ugandan Policy makers in March of 2020 with the Speaker of Parliament, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), the Prime Minister, and officials from NIRA and tabled issues that matter to the Diaspora such as access to services from MOFA through the Embassies and Missions, Right to Vote. “Today we are proud that Yes Diaspora has been allowed to Vote”.
  • In March 2020, I made a visit to Uganda to promote and cement UNAA relationships with Cultural leaders, a visit was made to the Katikiro of Buganda, the Katikiro of Busoga and other visits that were scheduled and cut short due to COVID-19 were to the King of Toro, the chief of Bukedi, and the Chief of Acholi.
  • Created a COVID Response Team and offered help to several Communities during the Pandemic through the seamless and positive relationships that were built between UNAA, other North American communities by collaborating and coordinating with local community leaders and organizations to ensure delivery of essentials to community members in need resulting in 18 Community Recipients of the UNAA COVID Relief Funds.
  • Introduced the UNAA Volunteer Honor and saluted those volunteers that have made a difference and also recognized many more in the community during the Online Convention.
  • We restored, ensured fiscal discipline and Integrity and Transparency in UNAA Financial systems, filed the organization’s taxes and posted financials on the UNAA website.
  • Introduced a more versatile Membership system that is intended to support Membership growth and tracking of membership benefits.
  • We have a Youth Mentorship program that is running Youth Forums that helps young adults to establish their educational, professional, economic and social goals.
  • We introduced the UNAA Business Week to promote UNAA Member businesses free of charge for a whole week.
  • Re-established and strengthened the Partnerships with other immigrant and membership-based organizations for information and resource sharing such as East African Chamber of Commerce, Africa Future Summit.
  • We embarked on building long term partnerships with counterparts that would benefit the entity and also widen our sponsorship base so as to have a sustainable financial standing. Such partnerships established were Equity Bank, Postbank Uganda, Opportunity bank, Housing Finance Bank, Next Media, Kiira Motors, Sessaco, Horyal Investments, etc and Continued the Tradition of engaging Business Folks in UNAA and transformed the Trade and Investment program.
  • Building a Database of Free and Discounted Immigration Legal Aid help for our members.
  • Promote all year-round Health and Sensitization in our Communities especially with the COVID-19 Pandemic, Breast Cancer, Free Health Services etc.

Remember, you are all UNAA ambassadors, so as we continue on this successful journey, let us unite and work collectively for its growth and advancement to attain our full potential. The onus will always fall on the rest of us to shine a light on what isn’t readily visible. Always remember, ultimately this isn’t about my administration or any one individual that leads you; For we shall succeed or fail together as UNAA to the Bystanders.

Thank you for Standing with UNAA and May God bless you all,

Henrietta Nairuba Wamala
President & CEO
Uganda North American Association – UNAA