Yesterday, I received a message from one of the invited participants to this meeting and who is right in this room. It read, ‘you guys are in defiance’! This person jokingly wondered how we could be organising the launch of a strategy about the future when we are in a murky present. I am glad the person, came to this event, which I am sure many will not say is a mark of defiance, rather the unyielding belief we have about the good that the future holds despite the difficulties of the present.
I would like to welcome and thank you all for taking the time to join us at this important occasion for ActionAid. We most deeply appreciate your show of solidarity at this moment of difficulty for the organisation. Your continued belief and association with us is the reason we have the courage to look ahead through the darkness of the present to the brightness of the future.
From dusk to dawn
ActionAid Uganda, while being a national development organisation is also a member of a global federation that is at a very crucial point in its journey, following the adoption nearly a year ago, of our international strategy, ‘Action for Global Justice’. We in Uganda are thus enjoined in a wider global movement for a more sustainable and equal world.
As we take our final steps in the dusk of 4th Country Strategy - ‘Embracing Rights, Improving Lives’, we come along with joys from triumphs as well as experiences from failures in the last five years. We look forward to the dawn of a new era defined in our 5th Strategy Paper - ‘Strengthening Struggles for Social Justice’.
The theme of our new strategy is not just another fancy title to attract donor money, but it reflects a key lesson we have learnt over the years - that durable change will be a result of authentic people’s struggles for a life of dignity led by those who most directly experience injustice.
The most an organisation like ours can do is to be part of and support social justice struggles - of women being exploited in flower factories, of civil servants demanding a living wage, of ordinary people fighting to protect their land, livelihood and heritage, of farmers seeking to get a better reward for their hard work and struggle against middle-men whose aim is often to rip them, of human rights defenders expressing their views on issues that matters to their being and that of their kin, of women struggling to dismantle the shackles of patriarchy that militate against their enjoyment of full rights as humans, of the students movement struggling to have their voices heard on national matters. These multiple struggles, while diverse are connected because of their purpose and approach - a search for justice and dignity, in a non-violent way. It is these and other struggles that we commit to strengthen.
Light in darkness
Going back to the joke I started off with from a friend and participant at this meeting - the journey we have embarked on, is not one of defiance but one that is rooted in our unwavering belief that despite the murky present and the uncertainties around us, the ‘long arc of history always bends towards justice’. It is on this arc that ActionAid is finding its place.
Like Mother Theresa teaches us, when you enter a dark room and your own shadow departs from you, the best thing to do is ‘not to curse the darkness, but to light a candle’. The little lights that our partners keep lit during these hard times gives us the hope, that the future will be brighter than the present.
I thank you all for being our light in the dark!