Hope. It’s my personal story.

It might not seem that hope would come from such a thing, but at the age of 13, my parents and two of my siblings were mercilessly killed during the genocide in Rwanda.

Perhaps hope comes because I miraculously survived, along with my three younger siblings who were all under the age of ten at that time. As the oldest – I assumed the role of a parent to my siblings. Today, we all completed our higher education as we navigated life on our own and rose above the storms.

Rising Above the Storm. This is the name of a non-profit I began just a few years ago to offer hope to orphans in underdeveloped areas of the world. Both the name, and the vision are derived from my personal life story.

Through my journey I’ve learned that I can be an advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves. Rising Above the Storms looks to advocate for orphans, bring hope to rebuild a brighter and more positive future, and empower through education.

Education shaped who I am today. I have an incredible career as a network engineer at Cisco. I got here with full scholarships to college in Rwanda and graduate school in the United States. And this has given me the capability to support my younger siblings. Ultimately, I believe this will help to inspire and encourage those who need it most.

Sometimes, it’s hard to be both an engineer and a non-profit founder. A lot of time and energy goes into both. The technology industry changes every day, and I am always continuing to learn. The same goes for achieving my personal goals with the non-profit, because keeping volunteers constantly engaged also takes learning. Plus, English is my third language. I invest more time to be sure I properly showcase my ideas, but it’s worth it. Add in that I still try to understand a culture that I didn’t grow up in daily, and it’s a full plate.

My parents always believed in me and taught me to work hard. Being a black female engineer has never been a show-stopper for me. It is my hope that I show others that is shouldn’t be for them, either.

What keeps me going?

  • I am not afraid of challenges. With my history, perhaps you think I should be afraid. Fear doesn’t keep me from trying something new and pushing myself.
  • I don’t give up. I don’t get discouraged easily and I am very determined. Even when I am disappointed, as long as I am driven by great intentions, I keep marching no matter the obstacles.
  • I am a grateful person. I make it a goal to ensure people around me feel appreciated and respected.
  • I don’t take life for granted. To me, every day is a gift and I feel like I was given another chance at life.
  • I believe in equality of all human kind. Everyone, no matter how great or mighty, we all have insecurities, desire to be loved and respected, and bleed red blood. Everyone deserves a chance and to be treated with respect.
  • I am aware of my strengths and weaknesses. This helps me team up with the right people to help me grow in life and also to be considerate of those who are different.
  • I am able to forgive, and move on!

I am not perfect but my goal is hope. To inspire and positively impact one person at a time, whenever I get chance. Join me!

 “Every single person has a chance to make a positive impact in someone’s life; not everyone has to do a “big” thing to make a difference. Create and seize opportunities around you, you might be the only hope someone will ever get.”


 Inspired to join us? We’re hiring! Apply now.

Want to read more about Alphonsine’s inspiring story? Read more on the Amazing Stories series.


Alphonsine Anderson

Technical Solutions Architect