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 (December 2017), 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. Espoir recently signed a renewable contract, giving him a steady income to support himself and his family. While this contract will expire in February 2018, we are confident it will be renewed – Kishibish clearly values his work. 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.