My name is Eustache Iriho, and I come from Burundi. We are a family of seven (four children, my aunt and my parents). I was born in Burundi during a civil war in 1997 where my father was always on the run because of persecutions. My mother and aunt raised me until we were able to be reunited with my father. We first fled to Tanzania for safety where my family and I stayed for two years before we moved to the Dzaleka refugee camp in Malawi where I grew up under the protection of The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
In the camp, every person was entitled to six kilograms of corn per month and some beans, sometimes with cooking oil, sometimes not. Once in a while, we would get help from the Malawi Red Cross with some necessities like clothes, blankets, soap, paraffin for lighting our houses at night and grass for rooftops (we did not have houses like the ones here). I used to dream of one day having a daily breakfast, not the daily porridge which you sweeten with salt for the lack of sugar we had. We only had one hospital in a Camp filled with more than 15,000 refugees.
Focusing on school was a huge problem especially with poverty issues at home. I would wake up everyday early in the morning, go help my parents at the farm then come back for school. I know school life is not easy anywhere but some circumstances are just overwhelming. I was used to monotonous diets, but how are you supposed to study if the only thing you think about is how are you going to eat today? All I knew was that once I pursue my secondary education with flying colours, World University Service of Canada (WUSC) would help me to continue my education as refugees were not allowed to go to any Malawian college or university.
My family and I came to Canada in 2014. My first foreign experience was how cold it was while the sun was shining. The first thing I fell in love with was how multicultural Canada is. The refugee camp I used to live in had people with different backgrounds but it was a whole new experience when I arrived here. I started my schooling in grade 11 two weeks before the end of the year. I already had a strong foundation in school however, I struggled with English. I received the award for Most Improved Player with the Boys Wrestling Team and a certificate from the Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing. I was also awarded the Jason Lachance Achievement award and the Peter Brazeau Award. So far I am a member of a drumming group called Loyal Kigabiro, a non profit organization that helps under privileged people in Burundi and promotes the rebuilding of Burundian culture. I love playing sports, especially soccer. I am also interested in music, dance, poetry, performing arts, and TV shows (I guess you can understand why for a guy who grew up without a TV) hahaha.
I believe that no one was born a failure or inferior. School was and has always has been my first priority. I always aim high to achieve my goals. If I can point out, my first marks in a Mathematics test did not please me at all but we are all capable of bringing our dreams to reality. Everyone wants more in life and the only way to success is through hard work and commitment. I dream of becoming an engineer. We live in an evolving world and I would like to contribute towards making it a better place to live. Every small thing a person offers to the community can have a positive impact on people’s lives.