Denis Christopher is 31 years old, and a Technical Consultant and Social Media Manager at Powering Potential. He was born in the Kahama District of Tanzania’s Shinyanga region and is the second oldest child in his family.
“I was very interested in Mathematics, Science, and English,” Denis says. “My father was a teacher and Library Master at a public school, so I had more access to books than other students.”
In 2001, he finished his primary education with the highest grade in his class. His hard work and commitment to education allowed him to enroll in Tabora Boys’ Secondary School, one of Tanzania’s elite secondary schools. Even so, conditions were far from ideal.
“Tanzania has a severe shortage of qualified science teachers and books,” Denis says. “There were not enough books or teachers at Tabora, but my parents helped keep my motivation up.”
His parents’ support, along with his dedication to academic excellence, helped fuel great achievement. In 2002 Denis scored a 92 on his English exams, with 40 being a passing grade. This placed him among the top best-performing students in all of Tanzania. He earned his Certificate of Secondary Education (CSE) with excellent marks and continued to the next level of education pursuing Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics.
In 2008, Denis’s father passed away. The family was deeply affected by the loss, and Denis could no longer afford to continue his education. He was forced to find a job to help support his family. He found a position at a local mining operation and worked as a Process Plant Operator for a year.
“Being a Process Plant Operator was not my dream job,” Denis says. “Since childhood I had dreamed of being an engineer. This goal was why I studied Mathematics, Science, and English throughout my education. But I could not work and continue my education. My family needed my support.”
But good luck was on the horizon. In 2009, the Tanzanian government’s Higher Education Students’ Loan Board started offering 100% loans for students pursuing science and engineering degrees. Denis applied and received the funding that he needed.
“This was the stepping stone to achieving my dreams,” Denis says. “I immediately resigned from my position at the mining operation and enrolled at St. Joseph University in Tanzania. I was going to get a Bachelor of Engineering. I was so happy that I would finally achieve my professional dream.”
It was there that he met Albin Mathias, Powering Potential’s Tanzanian Country Director. During a Microsoft Office lab session, Denis ran into trouble. Tanzania’s rural conditions had not given him the years of computer experience most Westerners take for granted, and because of this he struggled with simple computing tasks.
“I asked Albin for help, and he was very nice. I was amazed by his knowledge,” Denis says. “It was my first time studying computers, but Albin was a graduate of Powering Potential’s Technology Tent [an early Powering Potential program]. He knew much more than I did.”
Albin and Denis became fast friends, and it was through this friendship that Denis learned about Powering Potential’s charitable work. He was impressed that an organization was not only proving solar powered computers, but also follow-through instruction and training. Denis started working for Powering Potential since 2015.
“Powering Potential solves the problem I had when I was in school,” Denis says. “They provide access to learning materials that many students do not have. It is a valuable program that is making a big difference in my country.”