On Wednesday 16 June 2021, James Aryam, Executive Director of Windle International Uganda, sadly passed away. We are deeply shocked and saddened by the death of our colleague, mentor and friend. James was a pillar of the organization, and his commitment to Windle’s mission, and unwavering support of refugees and people affected by conflict, was an example to us all.
James joined the Windle family in 2008, when he became Programme Director for South Sudan at Windle Trust International. His commitment to humanitarian service and his leadership were evident from the outset and he was soon appointed Regional Finance Director, responsible for Uganda, South Sudan and Sudan, based in the Uganda office.
In 2011, James was appointed Executive Director of Windle International Uganda. Under his leadership, Windle International Uganda’s support for refugees, host communities, and those affected by conflict grew exponentially. He oversaw the introduction of new scholarship programmes, including the Student Refugee Programme in partnership with the World University Service of Canada, which last year saw 35 students being able to work towards achieving their academic potential through higher education and resettlement in Canada. James also made sure that education was available to the youngest of children, extending the support available through Early Childhood Development centers, Primary and Secondary Education in refugee settlements, and partnering with new organisations to make sure nobody was left behind. Through his innovation, James vocationalised secondary education to provide formal and non-formal skill development for refugee and host community youth and young children.
In 2013, the international office in the United Kingdom was established and through his membership of the Senior Management Team, James continued to contribute his unique skills to the whole of Windle International. His colleagues speak of him as being able to provide guidance with humour and courage for even the most difficult of issues. He was always willing to challenge people when they needed it, and support them to work through the toughest issues at hand.
Under his leadership, in partnership with UNHCR, Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), European Union and all other donors and partners, Windle International grew to become the Best International Education Humanitarian NGO in Uganda, as recognised by the Government of Uganda consecutively in 2019 and 2020 – a hugely impressive achievement, and one of which we are all extremely proud.
James was a visionary; an unassuming and kind leader, and a man of the people who interacted with all with ease. Nothing was too difficult for Aryam; he always had a solution. His humour would always put a smile on the faces of those around him. He was a superb steward who Windle was lucky to have.
One very distinctive aspect of James’ service to refugees and to Windle was his understanding of the importance of spending time in refugee settlements and with the communities whom Windle served. He recognised that it was imperative to spend time both supporting his staff, and making sure he understood first-hand the realities of life for refugees and refugee-hosting communities. This commitment was understood and highly valued by Windle’s partners and funders, and played a major role in the rise of Windle International Uganda under his leadership.
James’ remarkable service was driven in part by a deep concern to see each individual reach their potential. His commitment to refugees and marginalised groups inspired those with whom he worked, and reflected in a fundamental way the values of Windle. He was tireless in his desire to make sure that refugees themselves and the communities that host them were involved in shaping the support that Windle International Uganda provided, ensuring their needs were met and their voices were heard.
Many thousands of young people have been able to transform their lives thanks to James’s vision and dedication. Windle International Uganda is now a robust and substantial organisation, and he has left Uganda a priceless legacy. He will be desperately missed by all those whom he worked with and helped over his 13 years at Windle.
In honour of such a wonderful colleague and family man, whose life was cut short before his time, Windle International have set up a donation page. If you would like to make a donation in memory of James Aryam, a forceful change-maker for education in Uganda, click HERE.
Please note that your contact details will be shared with Windle International Uganda when you make a donation in memory of James Aryam.