In 2008, the founder of Second Chance Hope, Ramses Bolanga, escaped the war ravaged Republic Democratic of Congo. He arrived in the U.S. as a 16-year old with the equivalent of a 5th grade education. Overcoming virtually all odds, Ramses not only graduated high school on time, he went on to college, where he studied business and international relations.
There could not be more profound inspiration to achieve success with an organization than that which daily urges Ramses forward. In 2001, the final school bell for the day rang, and as Ramses walked outside, he was surrounded by chaos, as gun shots rang through the air and people were running frantically.
As he searched the area for his parents, who picked him up daily from school, Ramses was swept into the crowd, and began running in the general direction of the throng. After several miles, pain was searing through his body, from the soles of his feet upward. He stopped in place, willing to accept whatever happened. That was when a man swept him up, placed Ramses upon his back, and began running toward the border of the Central African Republic.
Despondent and lost without his family, Ramses found strength and his calling, rooted in the belief that no child should be lost. Turning his focus towards improving the lives of others, Ramses began to question the best way to help those in need. In 2008, as a refugee in the United States, he was struggling terribly with four major challenges: difficulty learning and speaking English, trouble completing his homework without help or translation, overcoming the cultural barriers that surrounded him, and securing steady employment after graduating high school.
All of those hardships pushed him to create Second Chance Hope, as a platform to focus on building connections fostering education, as well as to inspire, support, and empower new immigrants and refugee youth in the United States. Second Chance Hope focuses on providing as much individual focus as possible, transforming one person at a time. Ramses is the embodiment of the philosophy: As long as you are alive, there will always be hope.
Two years later, Ramses' life was horrifically effected by not one, but two wars. In the Central African Republic, the Bush War split the country, causing unbelievable civil unrest, as the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity fought the governments. Roughly 10,000 people were displaced.
In the Republic Democratic of Congo, another atrocious war ravaged the country, taking the lives of more than 3 millions civilians. As a result, more than 4 million children were orphaned, one of which was Ramses.