postheadericon Success Stories

From the Classroom to the Workplace

Many of our Oaks have come a long way since we met them. We would like to celebrate their success in feature articles.

Stanley Ssozi


Stanley was born in the Wakiso District of Uganda, struggling to support himself since he lost his last parent at the age of ten. Because Stanley sometimes failed to earn the money necessary to pay for school fees, he missed some years at school. Nonetheless, he persevered and advanced to high school, where he got some assistance from his head teachers. During this time, Stanley opened his barbershop in Kakiri trading centre. This business allowed him to support himself as he completed his diploma in Information Technology from Buganda Royal Institute of Business and Technical Education (Mengo).

We first met Stanley in the summer of 2014, when he was twenty-six years old. His goal was to secure full-time employment as a business and computer specialist. TSO was able to place him in an internship with at the Kampala Computer Centre, where he was in charge of training and computer networking. He completed his internship in May 2015.

In June 2015, the Ministry of Internal Affairs hired Stanley for a one-month term as a supervisor for the National Identification Issuance project. Stanley expanded and improved on his IT skills and learned some administrative skills online, namely natural justice as applied in administrative law, communication skills, ethics and organizational principles. He also gained proficiency in applications such as Excel and PowerPoint.

Stanley’s success with the National Identification Issuance project led him to secure a part-time 1-year contract with the Electoral Commission of Uganda on its National ID project. In this role, he supervised the issuance of the national identification cards (by computer) in the Kakiri area, where his role included national identity card registration, verification of voters, and vote recording. He also provided technical assistance for the computer system.

In June of 2016 Stanley had a one-month contract with the National Examination Board, assisting with the assembly of training materials. Stanley also continues to farm, where he owns a commercial pig business. He hopes to reinvest his profits to expand his business.

With the wealth of experience gained from his internship and past employment, we are confident Stanley will find meaningful, long-term, employment. With his career, Stanley aspires to earn a better living and be able to inspire the less advantaged youth and children to never lose hope and to always strive with determination and patience in order to reach their goals in life.

Back to top

Espoir Magendo

Espoir Magendo Espoir was born and raised in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). After his parents separated, he lived with his mother and seven siblings in extreme poverty. When we met Espoir, he was in his second to last year of high school in Bukavu and was hoping to graduate in May 2011. Espoir’s long-term goal was to attend an English university in Uganda or Rwanda and eventually pursue a career with an international NGO in his country.  However, despite being a dedicated and clever student (studying two to three hours per night), Espoir could not reach his high-school graduation goals because he had no means to pay for tuition, books, and exam fees.

With TSO's help, Espoir graduated from high school and went to Kampala, Uganda to study English for three months to prepare him for attendance at a Ugandan university.  From the beginning, Espoir demonstrated a remarkable ability to learn English, far exceeding our expectations. In August 2012, Espoir began the Bachelor of Science in Information Technology program at the Uganda Christian University in Kampala. After successfully passing two semesters, in the summer of 2013 Espoir enrolled at the Cisco Network Academy, where he took courses in Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Hands-on learning activities and network simulations helped him develop practical skills and prepare him for a future career in technology.  

In the Fall of 2013, Espoir moved from the Bachelor of Science program to pursue a diploma in Entrepreneurship and ICT, still at Uganda Christian University. In the Fall of 2014, Espoir’s academic proficiency landed him a letter of recommendation from the Faculty of Science and Technology and an opportunity for an internship in Information and Technology training on the ITC services team (UIS) at Uganda Christian University over his winter vacation. The UIS caters to all Uganda Christian campuses in Uganda. This internship required that he travel to each of the campuses, giving him the opportunity to explore Uganda.

Throughout his studies, Espoir was an active member of the student body, playing soccer and joining the International Students Association (ISA) at the University. In 2013 to 2014, he was elected as head of publicity for the ISA. His performance in this position was so exceptional that, at the end of his term as head of publicity, he was elected as president of the International Students Association! He took on many new responsibilities and viewed this achievement as an opportunity to improve his communication and leadership skills.

In July 2015, Espoir successfully completed and presented his final group project presentation (automated orphan registration system). After graduation in October 2015, Espoir returned home to Bukavu, DRC for some well-deserved time off to visit his family. In January 2016 he started a temporary (two month) contract as a System Administrator and ICT technician at Est. Kishibisha, a Bukavu-based company that operates supermarkets, food stalls, a restaurant, cyber cafe and bar. Espoir’s responsibilities included maintaining all of the company’s information and data systems, controlling and securing its system networks, installing and configuring its communications systems, and running the IT help desk.

As of today (October 2016), Espoir is still with Kishibisha, working well beyond the two-month duration of the original contract. He is installing cameras and networking infrastructure on the new Kishibisha Supermarket, which is a great achievement in his career. As this is non-contract position, Espoir is still seeking a full-time, permanent position that will provide him with better pay and job security. On his one day off each week (Sunday), Espoir continues to pursue his passion of playing soccer.  

We are so proud of and impressed by Espoir. When we first met him in 2011, he had no knowledge of computers whatsoever and could not speak a word of English. He has gone from learning to send rudimentary emails (taught by his friend and mentor, Pastor Samuel) on a TSO-donated laptop to being a proficient computer systems administrator who is well on the road to becoming fluent in English.

We would like to thank Espoir’s sponsors: The Rotary Club of Calgary Sarcee and private donors. 

Back to top

Gertrude Nanyonga

Gertrude at work3

Gertrude became our first Ugandan-born Strongest Oak in 2012 at the age of nineteen, while she was completing high school in her village. Gertrude’s father died when she was only four years old, leaving her mother to care for two young daughters. Their primary means of income came from producing and selling vegetables and poultry, which they sold from a small retail stall out of their home.

Despite her economic hardships, Gertrude managed to successfully complete high school in 2012, thanks to financial support from her uncle and former TSO Uganda Oak Leader, Elijah Kyamuwendo. Elijah tragically died in 2012, leaving behind many young people who relied on his support. We wanted to honor Elijah's contribution to The Strongest Oak Foundation and further his legacy by finding a suitable Oak candidate among his dependents. We found such a person in Gertrude, who received funding as one of “Elijah’s Kids” from a Rotary/TSO scholarship fund.

When we met Gertrude, her goal was to complete a Bachelor’s degree in nursing and pursue a career as a medical worker, caring for the poor in her community. In 2013, she temporarily strayed from that path and registered in the Uganda Christian University in the Bachelor of Agricultural Science and Entrepreneurship program; she felt her job prospects might be better since Uganda has an agricultural-based economy. However, her dream of becoming a nurse did not fade and, as fate would have it, just after completing her orientation at the Ugandan Christian University, Gertrude was accepted into the Jinja School of Nursing and Midwifery.

Gertrude began her studies in nursing in November 2013. Her practicum work over the next three years was diverse, exposing her to a number of areas of medicine: first aid, health education, surgery, emergency medicine, labor and delivery (midwifery), pediatrics, psychiatry, and neurology. Although she enjoyed all of her practicum assignments, her favorite placement was in labor and delivery. During her practicum in the emergency department of a local hospital, Gertrude was able to assist in a breech delivery, which inspired her to transfer from the emergency department to the labor ward to improve her midwifery skills. While she was doing her practicum in psychiatry, the draw of midwifery was strong: on her days off, she would go to the labor ward to gain further practical experience. She can now conduct a normal delivery and provide the necessary care to the new baby. She hopes, one day, to find work as a midwife.  

With all this hands-on practical experience, Gertrude still continued to attend classes, in which she did very well. In June 2016 she began working on her final research project on the knowledge, attitudes, and practices in HIV/AIDS testing, specifically among the female nursing students at her school. Her project focused on voluntary HIV counseling (teaching mothers about the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS) and testing services in Uganda.

In December of 2016, Gertrude successfully completed her nursing studies and registered with the Uganda Nurses Council. We are proud to report that, in her final year, she received distinction in palliative care, pediatrics, mental health, and her practical internship! Gertrude’s graduation ceremony is expected to be later this month (in February of 2017).

When not studying or doing her practicum, Gertrude was busy helping others. She volunteered with a Christian youth group, did some community outreach with orphans at TASO (The AIDS Support Organization) hospital in Jinja, joined the Red Cross Club at Jinja Hospital and volunteered with the St Mugaga Jinja Boys School in a program for orphaned children. She also was busy helping her family: working in her mother’s restaurant business and tutoring her two brothers in mathematics and sciences.

We are pleased to report Gertrude secured her first paid job in January 2017 at Vine Pharmaceuticals Ltd. In her on-the-job training, she is learning about medications, skin care products and the management of acne. Gertrude is focused and determined and has tremendous leadership qualities. When she officially graduates (and can apply for a nursing position at a hospital), we are confident that she will have a successful career in whatever discipline of medicine she pursues (hopefully midwifery!).

Gertrude is extremely grateful for the support she has received throughout her academic studies. We would like to thank her donors: all of the Rotary clubs in Calgary and Airdrie that organized and participated in the Elijah's Kids fundraiser.

Addendum: May 2017

Gertrude secured her first full-time nursing position in March 2017. Her contract began April 1, 2017 and will end on December 31, 2018.

She is a Study Nurse for a research project, conducted by Makerere University, that studies post-discharge malarial chemotherapy in children with severe anemia. Gertrude is posted in the children’s ward of Mubende Hospital, one of five hospitals in the study. She is part of a team that also includes a clinical officer and a social worker.

Gertrude’s responsibilities include identifying potential participants, obtaining their informed consent, pre-study screening, and collecting participant information (e.g., vitals, weight, etc.). She works hand-in-hand with the clinical officer to take samples for malaria screening and hemoglobin estimation, and a dry blood smear for future studies. She also provides the nursing care required by patients until they are well enough to be discharged.

This position will be a valuable addition to Gertrude’s CV, as will be the two online courses she recently completed. The courses covered how research participants are treated, especially in general clinical practice, and protected as human subjects

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


translate 180px

Follow Us


For all the latest news about The Strongest Oak and our Oaks, please check out our Facebook page.


Also, check out our videos on YouTube.