The strongest oak of the forest is not the one that is protected from the storm and hidden from the sun. It's the one that stands in the open where it is compelled to struggle for its existence against the winds and rains and the scorching sun.
Napoleon Hill

 

The Strongest Oak (TSO) Foundation is an international non-profit organization that equips remote African villages with solar power and provides mentorship, internship opportunities, and financial support to disadvantaged African youth who have endured extreme adversity, such as war trauma or acute poverty. Founded in 2010 and headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, TSO helps these youth (our “Oaks”) achieve life-changing personal, educational or professional goals, with the ultimate goal of them becoming financially self-sustaining.

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Our program has evolved through the years. Initially, our energies were directed towards supporting our Oaks in completing their educations. We soon learned that education is not enough to secure the Oaks' futures. Each year, thousands of university graduates flood the African job market; however, there are too many candidates for the extremely scarce number of jobs, and the few employers who are hiring require relevant work experience. To address this, and bolster our Oaks' chances for success, we introduced an internship program, in which we sponsor part-time internships in partnership with local employers. The employers provide our Oaks with the practical work experience required to secure a future job or to launch a small business or social venture. In-country TSO mentors (Oak Leaders) help ensure the Oaks stay on track with their goals and on-budget with their financial supporters.

In 2016, TSO began the Solar Energy Program to equip schools in remote, economically-challenged, communities with solar panels, thereby providing them safe, clean and reliable lighting and electricity. This program gives TSO the unique opportunity to offer “green” internships to Oaks seeking careers in clean energy. These projects not only benefit our Oaks but also benefit everyone in the community by giving them access to electricity.

We currently operate exclusively in Burkina Faso. We previously operated in Rwanda and Uganda and also supported Oaks from DR Congo.

TSO is a secular, international development organization. However, from time to time, some individuals with religious affiliations participate in TSO projects.
In 2016, TSO began to deliver solar power to remote African schools, which provides the unique opportunity to offer “green” internships to Oaks seeking careers in clean energy. These projects not only benefit our Oaks but also bring electricity to economically-challenged communities. [o1] For all internships, TSO mentors (Oak Leaders) help ensure the Oaks stay on track with their goals and on-budget with their financial supporters.

 [o1] Not sure this sentence is clear enough that we have recently begun to install solar power in off-grid rural African communities, which has led to TSO being able to offer “green” internships to village Oaks.  Something like...“We also deliver solar power to remote African schools, which provides the unique opportunity to offer “green” internships to Oaks seeking careers in clean energy.”

 

 
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Success Stories

Many of our Oaks have come a long way since we met them. We would like to celebrate their successes in feature articles. Read about our next featured Oak, Gertrude Nanyonga.

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