Child Sponsorship launches Apollo to success
From the age of five, Apollo feared being abducted by a local witchdoctor, bitten by a poisonous snake, run over by a car on the narrow, dry and dusty road as he walked to school barefoot, or getting beaten by his teacher for not paying his school fees.
Apollo grew up with 13 siblings, including four sets of twins. He lived with his parents and his siblings in a two-bedroom shack made from mud bricks, with no power or running water. The children would take turns fetching water from a lake nearby.
Apollo's family. Apollo is pictured sitting bottom left.
“Our living situation was considered ‘normal’ in my village. My parents were in one room, and the 14 of us were in another. It was refugee camp living,” Apollo says.
Apollo’s dad was a freelance carpenter, and his mum was a market vendor who sold roasted bananas for a living. “They brought us up on a very meagre income. Even the poor considered us poor,” says Apollo.
He would have one meal during the day, and some porridge at night, if he was lucky. “Our meals would consist of cassava, leftovers from my mother’s bananas and fish. We never ate the flesh of the fish—we made fish soup from the skeletons. We could never afford a whole fish.”
Every night his family would pray no one would get sick because, if someone did, his parents couldn’t afford the medical fees. These weren’t the only things he had to worry about.
“Fear gripped me because of the things I saw growing up. Our village is known for its witchcraft, voodoo and satanic spirits. I saw sheep and chickens slaughtered, and children would go missing every day. There was a huge wave of child sacrifices, and I feared I would be sacrificed to satanic gods.”
Apollo says there were also a lot of dangerous snakes in the village and that he was beaten many times for not paying his school fees or wearing a uniform.
Little did Apollo know that his life was about to change.
Apollo’s church pastor was an electrician and went to fix connections at a Compassion office in Kampala.
“My pastor told the Compassion staff that he pastored a church in my village. They said his village was a real candidate for Compassion’s child sponsorship programme.”
So, Compassion started partnering with his local church. They sent out a team from the church to look for the poorest in the community, and Apollo’s family were the first on the list! “I was sponsored at the age of 10. I hope to thank my sponsors one day,” says Apollo.
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Apollo's sponsorship photo.
Because Apollo was sponsored, all of his siblings had access to medical care. His family never had to live in fear of getting sick again.
“Sponsorship helped me feel like I belonged somewhere. I didn’t have to worry anymore—it made me feel special and loved. I was given shoes, my family were given mattresses, clothes, uniforms, sweets, powdered milk, and soap,” he says.
Sponsorship gave Apollo the opportunity to go on a safari. “We travelled in an open lorry and I saw lions and giraffes for the first time.”
He also went on church camps. “There’d be guest speakers, songs, challenges, games, and we’d go to the local church for ‘Centre Day’, where we’d sing worship songs and learn more about God. Compassion helped me stay in the church—without their help I would have left,” he says.
Apollo says the letters he received from his sponsor changed his life and how he viewed himself. “I don’t remember the exact words they wrote, but I remember how they made me feel. I remember how amazing it was to see pictures of my sponsor’s family and how they would send me pictures of the snow. That was incredible, as I had never seen snow before.”
After Apollo graduated from school, he went on to study environmental management at university for three years. “I only did it because it was a good, secure job, and my parents encouraged me. But it wasn’t my passion.”
Apollo preaching at his church in Kampala, Uganda.
Apollo’s passion had always been for the Church. “My pastor mentored me, I would follow him around and learn from him. He saw something in me.”
In 2005, Apollo went on a mission trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo to preach. “It was after that, I knew I wanted to be a pastor.”
Apollo is now the pastor of Christ Way Church in Uganda, northeast of Kampala. He’s also married with three daughters and two foster sons.
From left- standing: Aquila, Gabriel, Mathias, Alitza. Sitting: Annette, Ariana and Apollo.
When I asked Apollo why someone should sponsor a child, this is what he said:
“Sponsoring a child changes someone’s destiny. It is not an issue of whether I should or shouldn’t sponsor a child, it is an issue of life or death. If someone didn’t help me Grace, I wouldn’t be talking to you right now. I wouldn’t own a house, I wouldn’t be leading a church—I don’t think I’d even be married.”
He says, if you don’t help someone, they remain in their situation, and if you don’t help, no one else will. “When you sponsor someone, you are actually leaving a legacy in the life of someone you don’t know. That’s also what Jesus did.”
He also says that when you choose to sponsor, you are not just sponsoring one child, you’re sponsoring an entire family and helping the village as well. “Thanks to the person who sponsored me, I am now touching an entire city. Once we sow the seed, that seed will not go to waste.”
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