“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

It was a jittery night of 1997, and shots ripped the sky as rebels walked toward my home town of Lubumbashi. Cowering on the ground with my siblings to shield against stray bullets, I wondered if I was passively living the epilogue of my life; if these blazing shots were bringing down my dream to become an airline pilot.

In this despairing time, I remembered how my grandfather stood up against tribal customs that he considered wrong and, against all odds, moved his family to the city in hope for a better life. I remembered that, when my father became an orphan at 18, he fought grief with the purpose of providing his mourning family with shelter, food, and education. 

Their legacy has since been a compass in my life. When I could not become a pilot because of my deficient eyesight, I chose to dream higher rather than stalling. I became one of a handful of Congolese aerospace engineers.

I will continue to challenge the status quo. I will act as a catalyst for others to stand up for their ideals and follow their own wild and precious dreams.

— Sacha Yabili