Alumni Spotlight: Eleazar Nzoera

Eleazar Nzoera (’17) remembers the exact hour he lost his mother. It was January 1, 2011 at 11:00 pm. His mother was an inspiration to him. She was a counselor and a woman of deep faith and prayer who passionately cared for her children and others. But when Eleazar was still in high school, she died unexpectedly from complications related to surgical operation. Her loss was felt deeply by many but it was particularly devastating for Eleazar.

“There were physical and emotional symptoms like headaches and deep sadness. On the relational level, I was lonely,” Eleazar explained.

Eleazar’s grief caused him to spiral into depression and though he was lonely, he isolated himself from others for years. He felt vulnerable and he felt uncomfortable in group settings. So, he lived a life disconnected from others and spent much of his time reflecting on his mother’s life and her departure. He felt stuck in his grief.

Things began to change for Eleazar when he was in his third year at the Université Chrétienne Bilingue du Congo (UCBC). He took the introductory counseling course taught by the Director of Bethesda Counseling Center, Noé Kasali. The course helped him identify the root of his problems and he slowly began to open up to others, including his peers. He began to come to terms with his loss. With the support of his friends, he began to find peace and reconciliation with God. For him, UCBC not only helped him on the intellectual or academic level but it really helped him through his own grief and spiritual growth. He began to thrive and focus on ways he can pour his life into others just like his mother did.

Eleazar originally considered medicine after high school but his own experience with grief sparked a passion for psychology. As he began to consider training opportunities, a friend told him about the Biblical Counseling program at UCBC in nearby Beni.

“I wanted a program that incorporated the spiritual aspect of being human. I learned through a friend that UCBC and that had a program that balanced both science and spirituality,” he shared.

Eleazar found at UCBC both the methods and practices that would equip him as a counselor as well as a community that was particularly concerned with improving the livelihoods of others, particularly those vulnerable in society. Since he was young, Eleazar held particular compassion and empathy for orphans and the elderly. Moreover, he was given the opportunity to help hundreds of individuals facing despair and struggling from trauma when he joined Bethesda as a trauma counselor.

“All of this was possible because of my decision to attend UCBC. I’ll never regret that decision because my dream is being fulfilled today. I am inspired when I see people overcome their trauma. It gives me great joy to see our clients experience healing.”

Alumni Spotlight: Dieudonné Agaba

The son of a teacher, Dieudonné Agaba (‘15) knew the importance of education from an early age. He also recognized the value of language as a learning tool and gaining access to knowledge and information. Even though studying in the metropolitan city of Kampala in neighboring Uganda was an option, Dieudonné saw that Université Chrétienne Bilingue du Congo (UCBC) offered exactly what he was looking for – English and Computer Engineering. But he also saw something special about this University in his home country. 

“At UCBC, I learned to live in community, serve, and to really focus on work. It changed my way of viewing things.  I learned to belong.” 

Finding a sense of belonging at UCBC continues to shape Dieudonné’s work today. He serves as a Monitoring & Evaluation Specialist for Mercy Corps, an international organization tackling the world’s toughest challenges with lifesaving assistance and building resilient communities. According to Dieudonné, “everything that we are doing needs to promote community development and that is something that UCBC inspired in me as well.” 

One of the things that drove Dieudonné into this work was the desire to ensure aid responds to the needs of the people. For too long, he witnessed critical aid mismanaged. Through UCBC, he developed both the practical and problem-solving skills that would help him improve database management procedures so resources were properly managed and benefited those with the greatest needs.

“When I send a report, I feel like I am sending the report from my community and I can make sure that they are satisfied with the aid and that their life is really improving,he shared.

While working to improve the livelihoods of others through Mercy Corps, Dieudonné and some of his friends go a step further. In Goma, there is a consistent problem at local hospitals where patients cannot cover the costs of care and treatment. As a result, they end up having to stay in the hospital until the fees are covered.

“It can feel like a prison,” Dieudonné explained. “So we organized a program called Social Action for Hope where we contribute to a fund to help pay hospital fees for these patients so they can return home.”

For Dieudonné, UCBC is shepherding new leadership that the people are desperately seeking in Congo. These leaders think first about the community and look at challenges as opportunities for change – an opportunity to make a positive impact.

“When you see challenges, you identify them, and then say, ‘what can I do to address these problems.’ This is something I learned at UCBC.”