For the first time in a tunnel – what comes after? The editor of Wir-Online-Magazine Anastasia Zhukovets tells the rough story of Julius Mugenyi, who was raised in Uganda, is an IT-student in Sydney and at the moment an exchange student at the SRH Hochschule Heidelberg.

It was an ordinary Wednesday afternoon, when my interviewee Julius Mugenyi came to my office as agreed. With a bright open smile, this person seemed as if he had no troubles at all.  All the more I was impressed by his story. A story of willpower, determination and struggle. A story which could change lives.

Julius was born 1994 in a small village in Uganda in a family with 5 sisters and 6 brothers. He had to walk 5 km to get to school. Barefoot, because he had no shoes. He also had to help his family and was a cowherd in turns with his dad, milked the cows and sold the milk – these are all skills crucial to survive in a country, where you have only 1 Australian Dollar per day at your disposal.  When he turned 12, he left the parents’ house to go to a new school.

Julius with his family in front of their home

He was always interested in electronics and technology. When he was able to buy a cell phone, he carefully took it apart to see how it works. And that is how his dream of studying IT abroad came about.  “That is easy” – some of you might think. But not for Julius. His way is more than rough. Also considering that there‘s no Wi-Fi and you buy data volume in an internet café. Julius says that children in Uganda do not even dream about going abroad, some of them don’t even want to go to school, because they think it won’t change anything in their lives. But Julius dared to try.

He had no passport, and, more importantly, no money to make his dream come true. Unexpectedly, the theory Six Degrees of Separation struck here.  Thanks to relatives, acquaintances and friends, and after scratching together all of his savings, it became possible for Julius to get to Sydney. It was a real miracle for him. Australia brought a cultural shock: there’s no dust, the shoes are clean, and you don’t have to brush them. They have tunnels.  Julius has never seen one before.

Actually now there could be a happy ending and the story would be over, but that isn’t the case. The life in Australia is hard, but Julius is fighting through: he is sleeping on a terrace, in a car, in a garage, working at a factory and at the same time studying at the university in Sydney. Julius knows that the life has its ups and downs and doesn´t give up.

When he hears about the exchange program with Germany he doesn’t believe that he can go to Germany because of his previous negative experience with the Polish embassy in Nairobi. But he applies. When he gets a visa 4 days later, he is positively surprised.  Now he has been in Germany at SRH Hochschule Heidelberg for 2 months. The electronics at the dorm on campus are not easy to handle:  the washing machine destroys the shirts, the sensors and timers in the kitchen are sometimes really confusing. But Julius likes Europe because of its development, even though the electronics are not working as well as they should.

His dream remains the same. He wishes to study IT, make his Master’s and PhD. But he has new projects and dreams as well. He wants to teach 20 orphans how computers work, so that they are able to make something on their own even if they do not study. He has already found a place for that. Actually, Julius would love to be like the kids of today: tech-savvy from an early age.

On that Wednesday afternoon I listened to a story, which might have changed my life a bit, maybe it will change the lives of the readers as well. Julius says about his life: „Every day I tell myself: I have a dream“. And to make dreams come true, it’s worth to overcome every hurdle. We wish Julius success in his projects!