I’ve always had compassion for the plight of many in Africa. I think it started from me being overly sensitive at a young age and taking the old dinner table saying “finish your food, there are starving children in Africa” to heart.

RAS Blog Kali Alphonsine[1]
Alphonsine and me at the RAS Gala.
This is why I was so touched by Alphonsine Imaniraguha’s story. I couldn’t believe that a Cisco engineer working at my site was also a Rwandan Genocide survivor! I immediately offered to support her non-profit, Rising Above the Storms (RAS), which helps children who are in devastating situations such as the one Alphonsine was once in.

I’ll never forget meeting her for the first time, I felt like she was a celebrity! But Alphonsine is the most humble and grateful person I’ve ever met and this actually fueled me to take on more and more responsibility in her non-profit! I know that other Cisco employees can agree, because the majority of volunteers that serve RAS also work for Cisco!

The marvel of this really struck me when RAS hosted its first fundraising gala this past September. Because RAS is a new non-profit, we needed to find volunteers that could effectively help the planning and execution of the event. Sure enough, our 2 emcees, the photographer, a volunteer coordinator, and an event planner were all Cisco employees who stepped up to help make it such a wonderful success.

How successful was it? We had over 100 attendees come to the gala and over half of them were Cisco employees! From that night alone we were able to raise about $8,500, all from individual donors. I met so many incredible colleagues that night, and it was the first time I realized that the “Cisco Family” is a very real thing.

One Cisco employee even flew in from California for the event. She has been volunteering with RAS for a long time, and that night was the first time she met Alphonsine in person. It was such a great example of how Cisco truly can connect people across the world, even if they had never met in person.

Cisco Team Giving Back
The “Cisco Family” giving back together.

RAS has benefitted tremendously from Cisco’s giving back initiatives. It is listed as an approved Community Connect organization, so for every hour an employee spends volunteering, Cisco donates $10 to RAS. Cisco’s Time2Give days (where we are given fives days off per year to volunteer) were also incredibly useful as RAS was preparing for the gala. Alphonsine and I cherished the days we took off to prepare for the gala.

Cisco also matches employee donations to RAS, which has really impacted our ability to earn the $50,000 we are trying to raise to establish a learning and community center in Rwanda! Largely because of Cisco, we have raised about 40% of our goal.

I am so thankful for the opportunity to serve RAS and thank Cisco for introducing me to Alphonsine, who is now a great friend of mine. I know the RAS wouldn’t be nearly as successful without the support of Cisco employees and the generosity of Cisco’s giveback initiatives.

Meet great people and make a difference? Yeah! Apply to become a Cisconian.



Káli Pike

HR Representative

Human Resources Talent Brand