Rwandan man realizes his Canadian dream in Kamloops

By Vanessa Ybarra
December 14, 2016 - 11:45am Updated: December 14, 2016 - 5:34pm

KAMLOOPS —  The African country of Rwanda is one of the poorest countries in the world.

More than 50 per cent of the population lives in extreme poverty, with a large number relying on agriculture as a means of survival.

For as long as he can remember Rwandan resident Steven Kega dreamed of moving to Canada to learn ways to help his people produce more food in less time, and thanks to the hard work of one Kamloops woman, that dream is finally coming true.

It's a moment that's been years in the making.

On Tuesday afternoon, Niki Edgeworth and Steven Kega stand looking out over a snowy Kamloops landscape.

"I've never seen the snow before," said Kega.

Steven was raised in the small farming village of Gashora, Rwanda.

For the past two years the 26 year old, who holds his Bachelor of Environment Science degree, has dreamed of earning his masters at TRU to help farmers in his community.

"Most farmers, they work hard to get high-product, but at the end of the day when you see the energy they spend it's not equal to the product," said Kega. "I thought about that and I said 'okay, I need to think of something to help this big community'"

That's where Niki came in.

In 2014 the Kamloops resident took a trip to Rwanda with Developing World Connections where she helped build a porch in Gashora.

"Steven was an intern student who worked under our host," said Edgeworth. "t was an instant connection of this unique man who had a trade, many wishes and dreams and the more we got to know him the more we knew we had to help."

"I was a little skeptical that it wouldn't happen 'cause with all people we used to work with, they come and tell you great things, promises, but when they get back home they forget."

Niki didn't forget.

The mother-of-three immediately began the arduous process of getting Steven to Canada.

"It was visa applications, it was going to the school. I went to the advisors and talked to the administration, just getting a feel of what is this process, how much money do we need, how do we do this, where do we start?"

Thousands of dollars and three visa tries later, Steven finally arrived in Kamloops this November.

The Canadian cold didn't disappoint.  

"After like one week, I said 'ok this is enough" laughed Kega.

Still, his first week in Kamloops, Steven did what any snow-thirsty visitor would do.

A trip to Harper Mountain, Paul Lake, and roasting a good ol' fashioned hot dog.

Next came getting a job.

As luck would have it, Steven met Shawn Wiesner and Home Hardware Building Centre owner Rick Kurzac on a DWC trip in 2010."Rick and myself sat down and said 'wouldn't it be a really cool opportunity for Steven to work at Home Hardware'?

Wiesner says the benefits of hiring Steven go beyond extra help.

"It's an opportunity for us too to learn from him and see what it is from a different culture, and perspective on relationships and working with people," said Wieser. "It's a double-sided bonus for us as sure."

As for steven, he'll enrol in TRU as of the New Year, with the hope to begin his master's program in September.

It's an opportunity of a lifetime, all thanks to the kindness of one woman.

"It's a dream come true not just for Steven, for myself and my family," said Edgeworth. "It's been a lot of hard work and it's still hard. But we'll look at him and go 'you're sitting here, you're really sitting here'. It was a lot of work and totally worth it."

"She's the one who had the high percentage 'cause she worked hard so i can be here today," said KEga. "I'm blessed."


CP Holiday Train rolls into Kamloops this afternoon