Elysee was born in 1985 in the Southern Province of Rwanda, and is the 7th of 8 children. He was the only one who has attended school.
At age 13, he had to leave school because he couldn’t pay the fees. He joined a hunting group in Myungwe National Park in order to survive. In 2004, he went to Kigali to find work, but had no money which led to him being a street boy (which he was imprisoned for a time). He then found work as a mason and cleaning/ repairing shoes. He ate each day by buying a small piece of bread and a cup of sorghum porridge for $0.12. When he couldn’t afford this he would just buy a piece of sugar cane for $0.02.
In 2007, he found a sizable amount of his money his boss had misplaced and returned it. Because of that, his boss had agreed to pay his school tuition at Gabiro High School, which is where most KCF students went initially.
School was hard for Elysee since he was 23 years old, whereas other students at Gabiro were as young as 11 years old. He knew no English, and asked many questions to where the teachers reported him to the Head Master. He surprised the teachers at the end of the school term by ending up in 2nd place among 70 students.
Because of his good performance at Gabiro High School, he was able to attend one of the best high schools in Rwanda, then went on to study civil engineering. He graduated in 2017.
Quotes from Elysee himself:
“I give thanks to all people who have supported me in little or big ways. What you have done for me, I will do for others.”
“For me, I wish to build a life of helping at least 10,000 needy people and I have started.”
“What I request of others still in school is that they use their holidays to study, which will help them fight against joblessness.”
“I really thank God who gave me this chance to go to school like other children.”