Walter Lam was born and raised in northern Uganda. He is President and CEO of the Alliance for African Assistance (www.alliance-for-africa.org), a non-profit organization that helps refugees from all over the world who move to San Diego. Walter knows the struggle that faces a new refugee.
After high school, he fled political persecution in Uganda, and went to Egerton University in Kenya where he graduated with a degree in Agricultural Engineering. He returned to Uganda in 1981 and worked with the government in several management positions. In 1986, he again fled political persecution with his wife and two sons, and settled in San Diego, California. Sadly, a son who remained in Uganda died there after beatings by the authorities. Although the Lam family has been unable to return to Uganda, the Alliance has established an office there to sponsor education of children from primary to university levels.
In 1989, Walter founded the Alliance for African Assistance with the purpose of helping fellow refugees from Africa. Over the past 21 years, the Alliance has grown from its humble beginnings to a successful operation that serves thousands of refugees from more than 30 countries worldwide, with an annual budget of $3.9 million. The organization’s programs range from refugee resettlement assistance to job placement and financial literacy courses. In 2007, Walter opened a separate primary health care clinic for the refugees.
Walter is now a citizen of the U.S., and is a well-respected member of the San Diego community who serves on the boards of a large number of city and state civic groups, as well as several non-profit entities. He is a recipient of the United Way of San Diego Ben Polak Award of Excellence and has been highlighted as a prominent refugee by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCD).