Paul Apowida was born in the remote village of Sirigu in northern Ghana but when he was a baby his family, including his parents, died suddenly.
No-one in the community where he lived understood why they had died and they believed Paul was evil and to blame for the deaths of his parents. Before he was five years old he had been poisoned three times by men trying to kill him. However, he eventually fled his native country, to join the British army serving in Afghanistan. Here, he talks about his autobiography, Spirit Boy, which is ghostwritten by Lyndsey Jenkins, with proceeds going to the charity AfriKids.
Name and age
Paul Apowida, age 28 and I live in London.
Spirit Boy published by Silvertail Books in November 2013.
This is a book about my survival after three attempts to poison me because people believed I was evil. Although it’s believed my parents died from meningitis which was spread to six others in the family via my mum doing the chores, the community didn’t understand that. So when I survived, they tried to kill me by giving me a poisonous drink before leaving me to die in 35 degree heat. Thankfully I was found by a nun and my life was saved.
Eventually, when I was five – and after two more poisoning attempts were made on my life – I was brought back to live with the nun Sister Jane Naaglosegme at the orphanage. It was there I met British charity worker Georgie Fienberg, a volunteer at the orphanagge, who would become my legal guardian.
In 2002 Georgie founded the charity AfriKids and helped put me through school. I then won a place at art college and looked set for a promising career as a painter. However, in my final year I decided to join the British Army as a way of showing my gratitude to the UK. I wanted to say thank you to the people who saved my life.
Then two years ago I visited Sirigu with AfriKids which has worked to try to bring to an end the killing of spirit children and babies born with physical abnormalities.
Since then local leaders in northern Ghana have announced the abolition of ritual killing of spirit children but there’s still work to be done as the slaughter carries on in other villages.
Two years ago, with the help of Lynsey, my ghostwriter, I began to put my story into a book. I wanted people and the world to know what I went through but still made it and to inspire others and the youth. It is my real life story and hopefully inspires others that no mater what you go through in life and no matter how hard everything seems to be, anything is possible.
To find out more: Www.afrikids.org/spirit-boy-book