Many older folks like to exaggerate about their long treks to school when they were kids, saying they walked miles in the rain or snow to arrive at their destination. But Tek4Kids volunteer Yemi Sulaimon does not need to embellish his story of hardship. As a child growing up outside of Lagos, Nigeria, he literally walked nine miles to and from school, often without shoes.
One day, a UN worker spoke with the children in Yemi’s class about breaking the barriers of poverty. She said they could become whatever they dreamed of becoming and encouraged them to set goals to achieve their dreams. These words clicked for Yemi and he dreamed of one day working in the Information Technology (IT) field in the United States. Though his friends often thought he was crazy, Yemi studied hard and earned money to take Microsoft (MS) Certification exams by hauling concrete blocks to the third floor of buildings for less than a penny apiece. The exams cost $150 each, so it took about three months of back-breaking labor for Yemi to save enough to pay for each exam. Amazingly, he successfully completed seven MS certifications during and following his high school years!
His hard work and perseverance began to pay off when someone realized his skills and offered him employment as an IT consultant for a bank in Rwanda. A series of events led to his coming to the US to work as an IT consultant and eventually to an IT position with boice.net, where he learned about the work of Tek4Kids through Gary Boice.
Yemi has traveled to Jeremie, Haiti twice now as a volunteer with Tek4Kids. On his second trip in 2015, he was invited to speak in several classes at St. Louis High School, where he encouraged students with the same message of hope he had received as a boy in Nigeria. When he was asked to field questions on a local call-in radio show with Father Ernest (the headmaster at St. Louis High), the response was overwhelming. Only expected to last about 45 minutes, the show went on for well over two hours!
Fortunately for Tek4Kids, Yemi plans to continue volunteering in Haiti and hopes to return in 2016.
He says, “I’ve been able to work my way out of poverty in Africa and am enjoying helping the people in Haiti do the same. Dreams come true, I am a living witness.”