My Outreachy Internship with LibreHealth

How I Discovered Outreachy

My Name is Ngai Elizabeth Asobi, and here is my story  of how I first discovered and started contributing to Free and Open Source Software through LibreHealth EHR as an Outreachy intern.

I was a final year Computer Engineering student specializing in Telecommunications  at the University of Buea, Cameroon when a friend told me about Outreachy. She wanted me to help her with a challenge she encountered during her online Nanodegree program at Udacity. She told me that she had a lot on her hands because of another program she was committed to online called Outreach and advised me to also apply since I am equally good at coding. This was Outreachy December 2018 to March 2019 round. 

I googled Outreachy and there it was! I was motivated by what I saw on the homepage. I am going to work on a real life project with a mentor, in a community that did not really care about your background or sex. It was a great idea to sit at home and get paid writing code as a girl and still feel appreciated.  I started my initial application process and got the link of the projects one week to the deadline. I got so excited by the number of projects I saw, became confused about which to choose until the round closed without me recording any contributions to any of the projects I chose. I learnt two things the hard way:

  1. Start your applications early
  2. Narrow your projects to one or two

I patiently waited 3 months, for the next round to be announced. This time I knew exactly what I wanted. I looked through filtered the project list to one project with the following criteria:

  • I possess over 80% of the required skills
  • My current lap top hardware specification meets the requirements
  • Details on how to start is well understood
  • Project chat forum is welcoming
  • Above all, I have a passion for the organisations vision.

All this search finally brought me to LibreHealth’s project Improve code and Documentation for LibreHealth EHR.


 My First Open Source Organisation ( )

Where Did Motivation come from?

I had a personal connection with LibreHealth because it focused on improving healthcare using technology. This is something I was already working on in a team in my local community and so, I was curious. I wanted to find out what was different about their solution, how they walked around issues we had faced before and above all, how they approached their solution. 

In The Beginning….

Mentors had a challenge for all the applying interns which kept us focused. There were so many interns applying to this organisation and almost every day we had a new intern. I loved that everything was so transparent, you could easily track your progress. 

In the beginning, I was not the best. I had to try to be consistent in my contributions, chatting with my mentors and getting feedback on my work until I had a good standing in the community.

Tough Times Threw Me Back! 

My journey was not smooth though I remembered a time I almost closed my computer and gave up!  But what could have gone wrong? Competition became tough, I fell sick, I faced electricity cuts. By the time I got back to LibreHealth, I could not recognize the chat forum I left. There were new tough interns. One had created the most issues on GitHub, had the most pull requests lined up. While trying to catch on, there was a day I sent 5 contributions I had been working on to my mentor but all were rejected. I felt I was no longer welcomed or needed. I almost cried. That day I closed my computer and told myself it was over. I tried to sleep and forget. Could I even sleep? I could not accept this defeat! It was so painful. I loved programming a lot and so I focused on that and also on building a relationship with my mentor and other community members, helping out new interns settle down. In fact, I wanted to be “me”. I knew when my mentor would come online the next day and so I made sure I had other contributions to submit. This time everything was accepted! I mean everything! My scores were slowly increasing. My mentor was really grateful and provided helpful feedback every time. I started to feel good again. I forgot about the tough guys, focused on giving my best and by the time I realized it, I was the best in terms of scoring. 

My Reward.

Internship application process ended. I had a lot of fun and experience working with my mentors and other community members and so I thought to continue contributing anyway. I waited anxiously for more than a month for the results to be out. It was not easy waiting knowing that all interns did some great work but not knowing what mentors were actually looking for in their chosen intern. On the 6th of May 4 p.m UTC, I was constantly refreshing my browser to see this result. I got to find out I was chosen! So I guess they found what they were looking for in “me” after all.

What the future holds for you.

I am so excited to continue this journey with my community. I look forward to building great stuffs with my mentors. I encourage everyone who is thinking of applying to do just that and focus on what they have to offer,  work closely with your mentor, ask and wait patiently for feedback and taking corrections as they come, love what you do and be grateful!