OSMAN, WHO NEVER GAVE UP ON HIS DREAM
To become a computer scientist – his dream since childhood
Osman is a 24-year old man from Eritrea who now lives in Switzerland and who was a participant of the Powercoders program. He started his computer science studies back in his home country because he had a dream: to become a computer scientist. “This technology that has evolved so rapidly and that keeps facilitating millions of people’s lives every day has always fascinated me.” From one day to the next, he was forbidden from continuing his studies, for no reason at all. Also, he was called upon to start his military service, like many other youths in Eritrea. If he wouldn’t follow this demand, he was facing imprisonment as a consequence. Osman was suffering from this kind of oppression and saw no other option than to leave the country.
A long journey
In 2015, at the age of 20, Osman left his home all by himself. In Sudan, after walking for a day, he found a job: teaching English to children. He spent a year in Sudan, but because the situation there was very unpredictable he decided to continue his journey and quest for a safe place to stay. Without really knowing where he was going, he crossed the Sahara desert, finally arriving in Libya. He realized very quickly that the chances that he would be able to get out of there alive, were really low. He spent 5 months in prison but was able to miraculously escape from that hopeless situation. With the help of human traffickers, he crossed the Mediterranean Sea in a plastic boat built for 20 people – sharing it with 160 other refugees. Exactly the kind of picture that is so often portrayed by the media – except that for him and all the people on that boat, it was nothing but reality.
They spent 24 hours crammed together like this until they were picked up by an international NGO and taken on board a bigger board and then, finally, they were allowed to go ashore on Italian ground. Osman continued his journey alone by train towards Switzerland where he was taken to a center for asylum seekers in the Romandie. “It was a bunker, no windows, and during 4 months, we were 20 people in a single room.” He was then moved to an apartment where he shared a room with another person. There was still no privacy but it definitely felt like a huge improvement to him.
Learning French quickly came very easy to Osman. He really has a knack for learning languages, since he speaks five already! He joined a study program by the city of Lausanne while he was looking for an apprenticeship. He gave it his all: “I applied to ALL the places in the Romandie where they have an IT department.” Unfortunately, with little success: only one company would invite him for an interview but ended up not hiring him.
His chance: the Powercoders program
Two years after his arrival in Switzerland, Osman heard about the Powercoders program. That was his chance! So he applied and was chosen from among 80 applicants for the next class.
At the Powercoders “Career Day” he realized that he would really like to work at Swisscom and – they chose him as their intern! Towards the end of his 6-month internship, he was again looking for an apprenticeship. But this time, he was successful: Camptocamp offered him a contract and he is now working there to become a certified computer scientist.
Freedom at last
Osman’s story proves his perseverance and courage. He now lives with his girlfriend and says he’s very happy and grateful that his dream has become true: to live in peace and to work in IT.