It is exactly two years since Ritah Aliguma initiated the Aliguma Foundation (AF) with the sole purpose of transforming lives especially those of the less fortunate in Acholi Quarters - a suburb of Kampala that houses many Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), mostly from the war-torn areas of Northern Uganda.
Things have happened quickly for the foundation and its beneficiaries, with over 200 single mothers and children getting a new lease of life.
The success stories have seen star athletes: Rugby Cranes captain Michael Wokorach and She Cranes skipper Peace Proscovia pick from their own pockets to take back to school special talents from the area.
And several other well-wishers and high-calibre personalities have also come on board to ensure positive change is a continuous trend. It would be foolhardy to think that Nicole Gloria Apio’s flag-off to Italy for the International Sports Press Association (AIPS) Young Reporters Programme at the Uefa U-21 European Championships in Bologna and San Marino is the only achievement of AF thus far. And yet its relevancy and impact cannot be understated. It opened up many eyes and made the naysayers believe that something special was brewing up in Acholi Quarters.
For the first time, it brought together many dignitaries from all concerned sports associations; Fufa’s Rogers Byamukama, National Council of Sports (NCS)’s General Secretary Dr Patrick Bernard Ogwel, Uganda Olympic Committee (UOC)’s Elijah Njawuzi, Uganda Sports Press Association (Uspa) vice president Leon Ssenyange and Italian Ambassador to Uganda His Excellency Domenico Fornara in a setting far from their every-day lives at Acholi Quarters’ uneven makeshift playground.
“Sports is a unique experience for all the people and press freedom is fundamental for development in all aspects of life. To me, Apio is a perfect example of what resilience means. I am looking forward to hosting you (Apio) when you return so that you share your experiences,” said Fornara, who cut a humble posture and paid attention to detail throughout the hour-long function, before flagging off Apio.
Apio flies out to Italy today for the AIPS programme which runs June 14 – July 1 and she is optimistic she will return a changed person.
“I don’t know where to start from,” said Apio as she broke down in uncontrollable tears of joy and tightly hugged Ambassador Fornara with her mother Fortunate Acayo trying to hold onto her own emotions.
“I’ve passed through a lot in life, grew up with my single mother here in Acholi slums but finally God has done something great for me. This is me and that is my story,” added the 20-year-old Apio, whilst the gathering broke into song and dance.
Apio made the top 60 cut from more than 500 applicants and will be the third Ugandan female young journalist to benefit from the AIPS Young Reporters Programme.