Success Story from the Republic of the Congo: Ndzoyi Averty Delamizere, Founder of Espace Opoko

Ndzoyi Averty Delamizere was born 29 years ago in the Republic of Congo, a country also known as Congo-Brazzaville to distinguish it from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Ndzoyi was born while his parents were still in high school. Unable to care of him, when he was only 3 months old, they sent him to stay with his father’s mother, Opoko Emilienne. He grew up in her village of Bambama until he turned 16.

Ndzoyi’s school was 7 kilometers (4.5 miles) from his grandmother’s village. Every day, he had to walk 14 kilometers through forest to get back and forth to school. As a young boy, he did not realize that his life was difficult because he had nothing to compare it with. However, as Mr. Delamizere grew older he realized that the situation he and other students faced was not right. Many from his grandmother’s village were not completing their schooling due to a lack of funds for school fees and the challenge of long daily commutes. Mr. Delamizere considered quitting school himself, but his grandmother would not let him. She told him that, “He who wants the rain must love the mud.” The proverb is the equivalent of the saying, “no pain, no gain.”

Due to his grandmother’s support and his own efforts, Mr. Delamizere was able to complete his schooling. Even though Mr. Delamizere had succeeded, he was distressed by the large number of youths in his community that did not. The long distance that students had to traverse to obtain an education was a real obstacle to completing a degree. Approximately 30 percent of students drop out each school year. It was for this reason that in 2013, Mr. Delamizere left his job as the head of the communications department at MPD Congo, a mining company, and founded Espace Opoko, a non-governmental organization (NGO) that empowers young people in rural areas, including his grandmother’s where he grew up. Mr. Delamizere’s NGO bears the name of his grandmother because she was his inspiration and she helped him to become the person he is today.

As the Director of Espace Opoko, Mr. Delamizere is helping to alleviate hardships for youths, including helping them gain easier access to education, but too many young boys and girls still have to walk 7 kilometers (4.5 miles) to every school day. Not only is it difficult to obtain a basic education, but if successful, things do not get any easier for those that make it to secondary school (high school). There is only one public secondary school that serves Bambama and another nine villages; this means that many students are walking more than 43 kilometers (27 miles) each week, just for school. The school has no dorms and students must find their own places to stay during the week. There is no school lunch program, so if students want to eat they need to carry food for the entire week, then return to their parents’ home on the weekend to collect food for the coming week. Those students that do not wish to attend the local public secondary school must travel an even greater distance from home to reach the next nearest school, which is in Sibiti, 200 miles away.

Mr. Delamizere understands the hardships of the students because he went through the experience of obtaining his secondary school education in Sibiti himself. Many others at the school, like him found it very difficult to not only pay for housing, but also food. There was no library in Bambama, so in this video, Mr. Delamizere describes how he created one, with books in hard copy as well as e-books available on kindle devices. His dream is that one day the students in Bambama will be able to receive an education that is on par with students elsewhere in the world.

In 2015, Mr. Delamizere was selected as one of five young leaders from his country to participate in the Mandela Washington Fellowship Program in the USA. Part of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), the program enabled Mr. Delamizere to compete six weeks of training in the “Presidential Precinct” a consortium of several universities including the College of William and Mary and the University of Virginia. Mr. Delamizere plans to use the skills that he learned in the USA to put into action several initiatives: In addition to the library that he has already created, Mr. Delamizere intends to make a bus available to the students in the Bambama-Sibiti area so that they will be able to easily transport food in bulk to their high school. He believes a bus will help to reduce the high school dropout rate in the region. He also plans to build a school in Bambama and a school in Sibiti at which students would be able to overnight for free. Free housing should further reduce the school dropout rate due to those that can’t afford to pay the rent. A final goal is to train those students that have already dropped out of school, so that they will be able to earn a living and find success.

Based on the literature on international development and personal success, why has Mr. Ndzoyi Averty Delamizere been so successful in his undertakings?

Some key characteristics come to mind:

Mr. Delamizere is a strong believer in SERVANT LEADERSHIP. He gave up his job at the mining company to serve the community in which he grew up. He believes in African youths and serves as a ROLE MODEL for them.

Mr. Delamizere, like Nelson Mandela believes that “education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.” He understands the importance of education not only for individuals, but also for the development, democracy, and sustainability of communities and countries. The numerous initiatives he has planned will help to support and empower youths and help give them the resources and technical skills they need to succeed in life.

By Heidi G. Frontani

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