Lane Community College student Noelyne Alitema moved to the U.S. from Kampala, Uganda, in 2016. Now she is among 12 Ugandans living in North America who will be competing in Seattle Aug. 31 for the title of Miss Uganda North America.
Alitema says she was surprised and excited to be picked as a contestant for the competition.
“I didn’t expect it, I didn’t even know that I would do it,” she says. “All I had to do was fill in an application form and show what I’m interested in.”
The winner participates the Miss Uganda North America Cares Tour of Uganda to raise awareness of Uganda’s tourism, charities, peoples and cultures, and she receives a scholarship from the Ugandan North American Association. This year’s pageant theme is “Our Voices Elevated.”
One of Alitema’s main interests is clean water access.
“In America, there’s clean water everywhere,” she says. “Back home, we have to walk miles to get clean water access.” This will be the main issue that she discusses as a competitor during the pageant.
Alitema says she supports the mission of the pageant and hopes it will give her an opportunity to express her goals.
“The main objective is to support young women living or studying in North America to achieve their education and leadership goals,” Alitema says. “I wanted to make a change.”
Another upside to the competition, Alitema says, is that it brings people together.
“There are not very many Ugandans in the U.S., especially in Eugene. I get to meet people from different states,” she says. “It brings about friends and it brings community. What people miss most is the feel of home.”
The 2018 Miss Uganda North America Leadership Program competition takes place Aug. 31 in Seattle. Vote for Alitema, contestant no. 7, at missugnorthamerica.com. The competition is put on by the Inzozi Fashion House and Ugandan North American Association.