Updated: Oct 15
My name is Gloria Nicole Apio, born and raised by a single mother of three, Fortunate Acayo, in the challenging conditions of the Acholi Quarters, a community in Kampala predominantly comprised of displaced persons from war-torn areas in northern Uganda.
Inspiration Re-ignited: Apio (R) share a priceless photo moment with UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin during his visit to Acholi Quarters Playground in March 2023. The two first met in April 2019 when Apio attended the AIPS International Young Reporters Programme in Italy. (Photo/AF Media)
My journey from growing up in the slums to becoming a sports reporter and making a positive impact in my community is nothing short of a miracle.
Five years ago, I lived a seemingly hopeless life in Acholi Quarters, where I couldn't fathom becoming a journalist. It felt like a profession reserved for those who had access to quality education and spoke fluent English, something that seemed unattainable for someone like me.
My life began with adversity when my father abandoned us shortly after my twin brother and I were born. My mother's resilience was our only pillar of support. She worked tirelessly as a house help and volunteered for Italian missionaries in Uganda, doing every possible job to provide for my siblings and me.
Family Affair: Apio (3rd L) and UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin (2nd L) are bearers of pure smiles alongside the former's siblings and their mother Fortunate Acayo during the latter's visit to Acholi Quarters Playground in March 2023. (Photo/AF Media)
Her sacrifices were immense, coming from a background without a father and lacking the basic necessities. It's her determination and love that shaped me into the person I am today.
My childhood was marked by the harsh realities of life in the slums. I excelled in academics and had a dream of becoming a journalist to tell the stories of my community, but the financial burden was insurmountable.
My mother couldn't afford to send me for further studies, and it felt like my dream was slipping away.
In need of money to support my family, I resorted to menial jobs, like washing clothes for others in the slums. This was far from what I aspired to be – an example of success for everyone in my community. Life became a struggle, and I lost hope.
I studied at St. Joseph Primary School Kireka and I got Second Division honours with 19 aggregates. Then I moved to Crane High School in Kintintale from Senior One to Senior Six but my mother run of work as a casual labourer with the Italian missionaries in Mbuya.
For my Advanced Level (S5-S6), she joined Local Defence Unit (LDU) - security operatives for villages to fend for the family. Her hustled helped me finish Senior Six where I managed nine points. But my future was uncertain as my mother was now looking to give a fair chance of education to my other siblings.
Then, the Aliguma Foundation appeared as a beacon of hope. They sought to empower young and enterprising individuals in my community, and my life took a turn for the better. I embraced the opportunity to coordinate the foundation's activities, such as football tournaments and skilling programs. I even earned the nickname "Queen of the Microphone" because I believed in my ability to be a powerful voice for my community.
Lighting Up Another Candle: On her first flight out of Uganda, Apio (R) was welcomed by her mentor-turned-guardian Ritah Aliguma in Italy for the AIPS International Young Reporters Programme in April 2019. (Photo/AF Media)
The CEO of the foundation, Ritah Aliguma, recognised my dedication and enrolled me back in school at the Uganda Institute of Business and Media Studies (UIBMS). I pursued my dream of becoming a journalist, and with the foundation's support, I had the chance to intern at Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) TV and Magic FM. These opportunities expanded my horizons and exposed me to more possibilities.
My journey reached new heights when in April 2019 I was selected to attend the International Young Reporters Programme in Italy, thanks to AIPS. It was a life-changing experience that not only transformed me but also gave hope to my community. The God of the poor favored me once more, and I couldn't be more grateful.
I was later offered a job as a sports reporter and show host at NBS Sport by Next Media Services, one of Uganda's major media institutions. My community, especially the youth, gained new hope and inspiration. They saw that someone like Apio from the slums could rise to work for a prominent media organisation, and it all began with the Aliguma Foundation.
Award Acknowledgement: Apio (R), who was baptised the moniker - Queen of the Mic - by her fellow slum dwellers in Acholi Quarters gives her acceptance speech soon after winning the inaugural Plascon Uspa Media Award in June 2023 for her special broadcast piece on boxing student Mulungi. (Photo/AF Media)
One of the high points of my career was covering the visit of UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin to Uganda, including his visit to Acholi Quarters slums where I was born and bred. The Aliguma Foundation resurrected a dream that had seemed lost. They saved me from early marriage, drug abuse, hunger and many bad vices associated with less-privileged teenagers and youth. They provided me with a second chance in life when I had given up.
I feel very lucky to be where I am, but I have not reached anywhere yet because I hope and want to use my plight to inspire many other Apios who are like me, who grew up in different slums out there, to keep their hopes up and not give up on life.
Early efforts rewarded
And there's more to my journey. I was honored to receive the Plascon Uganda Sports Press Association (USPA) Monthly Media Award in June 2023 for my captivating story on NBS Sport titled; 'Kasim Murungi setting an example at City High School in boxing and education.' This story highlighted the trials and tribulations of a young athlete in his pursuit of excellence in two varying careers.
Murungi, a courageous rising star, is one of those ghetto products who remind me of my story. He is one of the many boxers I interview fresh from trading punches in the ring, with sweat cascading their athletic bodies, no matter whether they have won or lost their bouts).
It's a routine I do every two weeks on the nights of the Uganda Boxing Champions League, one of the platforms that bring the best out of me.
Born To Win: Apio was the inaugural winner of the USPA Media Awards - Broadcast category in June 2023. (Graphic/USPA Media)
At Next Media Services (NMS), where I am employed on a full-time basis, I've already been crowned September 2023 Transformer of the Week - a gong given to proactive staff - because of my passion and enviable work ethic.
My mission is to use my story to inspire countless others in similar circumstances. I want to encourage more young girls in Uganda to pursue sports reporting. When you see me report sports, I want to make it engaging and fun because I genuinely love what I do. I want to tell the world about the child of a house maid who made it in life.
I am profoundly grateful to the Aliguma Foundation, AIPS, and Next Media Services amongst many others who have chipped in to my journey – you know a child is raised by a village in Africa - for the opportunities they've given me.
I look forward to spreading positive change in my community and beyond.
LINKS - MORE ABOUT APIO
One Brings Two: Apio (R) picked another award for her commitment and work ethic in September 2023 from her workstation - Next Media Services - for her role as a Sports Reporter and Show Host. (Graphic/NMS)
ALIGUMA FOUNDATION PLUGS:
FOR SUPPORT: Please donate to the foundation using this link below:
FOR DIRECT CONTACT:
Call: +256 774 235155 (also on Whatsapp)