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I’m a former sponsor child. Here’s what I have to say.

When a group of Sydney students started sponsoring a child in Uganda, they had no idea the impact they would make. Raphael was one of many children in need following 23 years of war in his homeland. Today he is a grown man and ready to pass on the support he received. His story shows what happens when you help a child in need.

Life was simply so challenging before I was sponsored. I am one of 15 children. My father made just $50 a month to support us so it was very hard for my family to secure school fees for us all. It was compounded by the war we had for 23 years. When I was introduced to ChildFund it was a turning point in my life.

When I was a child we were dispersed from home to live in a camp due to the civil war. Outside it was unsafe but it was also not safe inside the camp as the enemy would sometimes come in and raid for food, to kill or steal children.

I lived with my family in a makeshift home in the camp from the late 1990s until 2006. When we moved to the camp the focus moved from education to security. During this time children were detached from schools. We could not put on lights to study at night time because the enemy would find you.

I was sponsored at 12 years old when I was in grade six. The biggest benefit of being a sponsored child for me was school fees. I didn’t have to worry about school fees anymore. Instead I could concentrate on my studies.

Sponsorship pulled me from nowhere to being able to have a good life in Uganda. It was like a bridge. If that bridge had not been there I would not have been able to get to the other side.

Even as a child I knew that education was most important because if I am educated, all the rest will come. Before my last year of primary school, me and a friend spoke to the ChildFund officer and said we wanted to be transferred to a better school. He assisted us with the application. Our parents didn’t come with us and the school was afraid we wouldn’t be able to pay our fees. We told them, “It’s okay, we are with ChildFund” and it was okay. I turned out to be one of their best students.


Raphael has finished a postgraduate degree and now works for a Dutch aid agency in Uganda

Raphael was accepted into one of the top high schools in his district. He then went on to complete an undergraduate degree, and he has recently finished postgraduate studies. He now works as a logistics officer for a Dutch aid agency.

ChildFund was my launch pad. If I was not sponsored I think I would be a peasant farmer, which is one of the popular livelihoods in Uganda, or doing casual work.

Sponsorship may not translate to your success and career. It translates into the environment and the resources you need to succeed. After that it is our responsibility to make the most of the opportunity. For me, I think it`s the beginning of a very bright future. I`ve spent most of my time so far at school. It is now going upwards from here.

I am now married with three boys. My children will go to the best schools in the district but I don`t want to have any more children because I want to be able to support other children and make an impact in their lives.

My goal for my life is to ensure people succeed through me.

I am now part of the ChildFund Alumni Association. We are a group of 300 successful former-sponsored children who are reaching out to the next generation of Ugandan children. We are teachers, university lecturers, social workers, lawyers and I am in procurement and transport.

Raphael with his wife, Beatrice, who is a teacher and their three sons, Jonathan, 8, Arron, 6, and Emmanuel, 4

After reconnecting with Michael Coorey, a former teacher who organised Raphael`s sponsorship on behalf of his students, Raphael made the long journey from Uganda to Sydney to meet him in person this year.

When the time came to meet Michael it was something that cannot be described, it could just be felt. It was very special. It was a moment in life that nobody can imagine to be true. It is a very good feeling for someone who has been sponsored through ChildFund for this to happen.

When I first started to think about a means of conveying my heartfelt thanks to my sponsors, the first thing that came into my thoughts was to name my last born in memory of him. That is why my four-year-old son is called Emmanuel Coorey. Though to actually meet Michael in person was unexpected but definitely a dream come true!

Coming to Sydney was such a special time for me.

I also went to the school that sponsored me to meet their students. Speaking to them was a very big achievement for me. Interestingly, teachers that were also involved in my sponsorship were still there, and they were wonderful to meet. It was great that they too could see the impact they have had on me.

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