Raphael is now a grown man with a family of his own. His wife, Beatrice, is a teacher with whom he has three sons – Jonathan, 8, Arron, 6, and Emmanuel, 4. Raphael has completed an undergraduate degree, recently finished postgraduate studies at university and is now working in logistics for a Dutch aid agency.
The future looks bright for this young family. “My children are able to go to one of the best schools in the district. This is a direct impact from my sponsorship,” says Raphael “The ripples are getting larger and larger.”
But Raphael isn’t stopping there – he is now part of ChildFund Uganda’s alumni association which is reaching out to the next generation of children. “If my life had not been helped I would not be here today, so I need to take it personally and reach out to other children.”
“Sponsorship is having a bigger impact than most people, I think, can ever imagine,” says Michael. “It is not just a transaction. It’s a long-term commitment to improving a child’s life. There is a real person with a real life at the other end.”
After the pair reconnected in 2014, Michael had the opportunity to see this impact in person when Raphael made the long journey from Uganda to Sydney to meet him earlier this year. In amongst fun trips to the Opera House (which Raphael has aptly renamed the Opira House, after his surname) and Bondi Beach, the companions made the trip back to where it all started – Georges Grammar School.
“In full academic gown, Raphael proudly spoke to the school and thanked them. He wanted to show the value of education,” says Michael. “He then presented the school and me with certificates of appreciation. It was a great day.”
Michael and Raphael’s friendship continues to grow. Michael is currently fundraising to build a well in Raphael’s community so families will no longer be forced to walk long distances to fetch water. He is also planning to visit Uganda for the first time soon. In the meantime they talk often on the phone.
“It’s just like a stone has dropped into a lake and there’s a ripple effect,” Michael says “Sponsorship was the stone for Raphael but the ripple effect continues and I don’t think it’s going to stop now.”
You can read and watch Raphael’s story in his own words, here.