Julius Muyombya beat thousands of students from across the UK to receive the prestigious Outstanding BTEC Business and Enterprise Student of the Year award.
HE ONCE lived in unimaginable poverty and squalor with his grandmother in Uganda. Today, ex-street child Julius Muyombya is an inspiration to an entire community back home.
Abandoned by his parents as a small child to be brought up by his grandmother, life with several of his siblings meant a one-roomed shack in Kampala, Uganda. By the age of seven, Julius was collecting rubbish from the streets to help earn money for his grandmother.
His incredible tale of grit and determination came to light at the BTEC Awards 2016 in London where he beat thousands of students from across the UK to receive the prestigious Outstanding BTEC Business and Enterprise Student of the Year award.
Life changed the day he was discovered by a schoolgirl visiting from North Wales with other pupils from St David’s College in Llandudno, who visit Uganda every year to do outreach work.
St David’s pupil Christina Ramsay spent several days with Julius and the teenager was struck by what she later described as the young boy’s “spark”. Christina, from Holywell, who is now 26 and a nurse, returned home determined to find a way to bring the then 11-year-old to North Wales.
Christina said: “Rev Tim Hall, the chaplain of St David’s, supported my idea and we eventually got him a birth certificate, passport and visa – but it took a year and a half.”
When brought over to the UK in September 2011 to begin a five-year programme at St David’s College on a full scholarship, Julius immersed himself in education and overcame huge challenges socially and culturally.
Now, Julius has taken what he has learned on his BTEC Subsidiary Diploma in Business and is already making a difference to his community in Uganda. He set his mother up with a sustainable goat breeding business, and set up a small entrepreneurial project selling padlocks on a market stall to provide an income for his grandmother.
In addition to helping his family, he has developed a sustainable business project to help poor families in his community earn an income so that they can afford food, clothes and be able to send their children to school.
Julius, now 18, has just accepted a scholarship to study business and law at Bangor University.
He recalled: “When I got to the airport in Kampala to come to North Wales I was introduced to a whole new world.
“My father took me to the airport and I remember him being amazed watching the planes, he’d never seen one before. I enjoyed the flight but once I got to Heathrow I didn’t have a clue where to go and could only speak very limited English.
“I needed to get a flight to Manchester but I kept on getting lost. But luckily these two blokes I spotted had a Manchester United back pack, and they bought me a drink and showed me where to go – I didn’t tell them I wasn’t really a Man United fan.”
Stuart Hay, St David’s headteacher, said: “Julius is a strong leader and first class role model. He has a remarkable work ethic and is worth every bit of the sponsorship in the example he is setting in studying and commitment to every aspect of school life.
“In his community in Uganda, we have seen his immense leadership qualities at work first hand and he is committed to return to Uganda once he has completed his education in the UK.”
Julius says his family are very proud of him, adding: “I just want to make a difference to my country as my head is full of ideas. It’s not about earning lots of money, that doesn’t really interest me. But I would like to be perhaps the president of Uganda one day – anything is possible.
“When I go back to the shanty town and speak to the children, I tell them they have to go to school to get educated because look what happened to me.”