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Featured Graduates


Scola Matala Sikitu

Home Town/Current Residence: Bagira, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Objective: Complete high school and then study accounting at university.

Current Status: Studying Accounting at Kigali Independent University in Kigali, Rwanda

About: Scola was born in Bagira, South Kivu in 1989. When she was two, her father died, leaving her mother to struggle to provide for her children. Because there were no relatives in the area to turn to for support, they often relied on assistance from neighbours. Scola’s mother eventually remarried and, as is common in Congolese culture, the stepfather rejected Scola and her sister. When Scola was 10 years old, her mother and stepfather moved away, abandoning Scola and her sister. The girls depended on neighbours and community organizations for support.

Scola’s younger sister married at the age of 16. In a country where marriages of economic convenience and survival sex (prostitution) is the norm for girls in poverty, Scola has taken a different path to a brighter future: education.

When we met Scola, she was living in a storeroom of a church in Bagira, sharing space with a wheelbarrow and tools. Despite her living conditions and interruptions in her education due to a lack of money for school fees, Scola was undeterred to reach her goals of completing high school and then study accounting at university.

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Featured Graduates

Espoir Mwikizi Magendo

Current Residence: Kampala, Uganda
Home Town:
Bukavu, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Objective: Graduate from high school and attend an English university in Uganda or Rwanda.

Current Status: Graduated in October 2015 with a diploma in Entrepreneurship and ICT from Uganda Christian University. In December 2016, completed  internship as System Administrator and ICT technician at Est. Kishibisha, a Bukavu-based company. Currently seeking a new position.

About: At 17 years old, Espoir (meaning “hope” in French) became a Strongest Oak. His parents were separated and he was living with his mother in extreme poverty.

When we met Espoir, he was in his second to last year (form 6) at Fadhili High School in Bukavu and was hoping to graduate in May 2011. Despite being a dedicated and clever student, Espoir could not reach his high school graduation goals because he had no money to pay for tuition, books, and exam fees. With TSO's help, Espoir graduated from high school, studied English for three months in Kampala, Uganda to prepare him for attendance at a Ugandan university.

Espoir hopes to eventually pursue a career with an international NGO in his country. In his free time, Espoir enjoys playing football.

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    Zingire Namegabe

    Home Town/Current Residence: Bukavu, Democratic Republic of the Congo

    Objective: Start her own business to support her family.

    Current Status: Completed an internship in advertising and sales at a bottled water manufacturer and distributor.

    About: When we met Zingire, she was a 20 year old single mother who lived with her sister Neema Namegabe (also a Strongest Oak) and her brother Polain. Zingire was living in extreme poverty and her daughter (Ashuza) and nephew (Jordan) were only recently able to attend school thanks to two generous TSO Canadian donors.

    To support her family, Zingire’s goal is to start a small business (a small community store). To achieve this goal, TSO has sponsored Zingire's tuition sponsorship for a three-month entrepreneur course to train her on basic business principles. After that, TSO will help her create a business plan to present to local lenders to launch a shop and create some marketing materials.

    Zingire’s hometown, Bukavu, a city of 250,000 people, is challenged by extreme poverty and its residents have endured a horrific history of war and tragedy for years. In 2006, 16,000 females were raped by General Nkunda’s troops (Der Speigel, 2006).

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    Neema Namegabe

    Home Town/Current Residence: Bukavu, Democratic Republic of the Congo

    Objective: Start a small business selling handcrafts, as well as to improve the quality life for her son, her parents and herself.

    Current Status: Completed an internship in sales and customer service at a gift shop, the Likembe shop in Bukavu

    About: When we met Neema, she was a 25 year-old single mother and sister to Strongest Oak, Zingire Namegabe. Neema lives in extreme poverty with Zingire and other family members in an impoverished slum in Bukavu, a larger city in South Kivu province in Eastern D.R. Congo.  When she was 18 years old, Neema was sexually assaulted by a Congolese rebel soldier and, as a result, later gave birth to a son named Jordan. Thanks to a generous donor from Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Neema was recently enrolled in a local vocational school called CAPA and is currently learning a new trade in handcraft production.

    Jordan (age 6) was sponsored to attend a local primary school called Group Scolaire Dani and was fully outfitted with the necessary school clothing and provided with school supplies. After graduation from CAPA later this year, Neema’s goal is to open a handcraft production shop.

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    Success Stories

    Many of our Oaks have come a long way since we met them. We would like to celebrate their successes in feature articles. Read about our next featured Oak, Gertrude Nanyonga.

    Gertrude at work cropped


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