Bridging The Opportunity Gap: RAS Empowers Children From Low Income Families With Scholarships

Last month we introduced our soccer club program and some of our older children who are going to the pros. This month we are excited to highlight our scholarship program.


Education is one of the most important tenets we teach our children at Rising Above the Storms; however not all of our street children excel in school or have college aspirations.   At the same time, there are many vulnerable children who are bright but come from families that can’t afford their education.  This particular group of children is college bound!

The staff recruited the first 30 students for our first cohort last Fall, representing a range of grades from primary to secondary schools (Grade 1 – 12).  We fund their tuition, uniforms, materials, and other school-related expenses.  Interest in the program has been incredible, and we already have a long waitlist for the next cohort.

Our 5 Students Graduated in July 2023
Meet Our 2023 Graduates

This past July, 5 children in our scholarship program (all girls) took standardized tests this year to advance to the next grade. Rwanda tests children in grades 6, 9 & 12.  3 received perfect scores and 2 earned 83 percentile. We are very proud of them. Your donation makes it possible for children like these to continue pursuing their education.  You go girls!

Idrissa studying on his laptop
Idrissa studying on his laptop


The scholarship program was partially inspired by Idrissa Dusengimana, the first street child to graduate high school in 2020 – and in the top of his class. He also received a scholarship to engineering school.  You can read his story here.  Idrissa wouldn’t have had this opportunity if not for our generous donors who help us make this happen.

The Future

Our current website is undergoing changes that will soon allow donors to directly sponsor students from our site.  You’ll be able to sponsor a child in primary school for $38 a month or secondary school for $55 a month.  Stay tuned for updates!  In the meantime, you can sponsor a child now on our website. Simply enter the amount ($38 or $55), and select recurring for a monthly donation. Our team will reach out to you with details about the students in our program from which you can select to sponsor.


We’re also investing in our students’ futures in college and beyond through financial aid and by approaching businesses about mentorship and internship opportunities. We look forward to sharing more as this program expands and more are added.

7 of Our Children Are on their Way to the Rwanda National Soccer League

We are excited to announce that one of our two soccer teams earned a spot to play in the Rwanda Football Federation League, the national soccer league. The team will play in the league’s newly established third division, which showcases the skills of lesser known yet promising teams. The League boasts three divisions with the Rwandan national team drawing its players from the top clubs in division 1.

Our Rwanda Learning Center currently has two soccer teams: one formed with children under 17 (U17) where most of our kids fall into, and a second team with children 17 and above (U23 or Under 23). The age requirement to join the National League is 17; this means that the U23 team has had to recruit additional players outside the program to fill the team, until our U17 children can reach 17. We currently have 4 children from our Street Children Program in the U23; the rest of the players come from broken homes, and were often spotted at the court as spectators of our matches.

The U23 team named after our local partner, Amahoro Builders Football Club, qualified to apply for the third division after the league took notice of its winning streaks in local friendly matches. However, the league put the team through a rigorous acceptance process that required our local partner to rent an acceptable field for home games, among other requisites. The team was accepted into the league in May 2023 and commenced its first game on June 24th.

RAS provides funds for jerseys, shoes, socks, and equipment for both teams, as well as a coach who also doubles as a counselor at the Center. One of RAS’ future fundraising goals is to purchase a new facility with land that can be converted into a soccer field.

In other soccer news, three other children from the Center are also on their way to the same national soccer league as professional referees. They’ve been part of a training program hosted by the league to recruit young referees as it expands. The trainees have been training alongside Federation referees at local youth matches and will be eligible to officiate division 3 matches when they graduate later this year.

“One of the things RAS encourages is for our children to think about what careers they want to pursue in the future, and we help set them up for success,” stated Alphonsine Anderson. When our Rwanda staff learned about the referee program, they shared it with our kids and enrolled those who were interested, paying all their fees. Once they graduate, they’ll have an opportunity to earn money doing something they love.

Rwanda has not been a stranger to the world of soccer. Those who watched the World Cup last year might recall the presence of a Rwandan woman named Salima Mukansanga among the referees.  Alphonsine expressed hope for the future of these aspiring referees, saying, “We hope these kids reach their dreams, maybe even joining the ranks of FIFA referees like Mukansanga someday.”

We find inspiration in the unwavering resilience of our children, who are actively shaping their own future. Soccer has become a powerful catalyst for our children, instilling in them confidence, hope, and the bravery to pursue their dreams. It fills our hearts with joy to watch them shine not only at the court but also in every aspect of their lives!

Will you join us as we continue to empower vulnerable children?

Idrissa Dusengimana: Our first college-bound RAS alum

It is with great excitement that Rising Above the Storms announces its first high school graduate: Idrissa Dusengimana. We first met Idrissa in January 2017. Life has been anything but easy for him. He’s struggled with the loss of his father and meeting basic needs. Before he came to the Center, he dropped out of school and began collecting scrap metal for food.

Through his hard work, determination, and your support he completed his high school education! He has come a long way. Now 20 years old, Idrissa started college this past Monday! He is enrolled in Integrated Polytechnic Regional College in Kigali where he plans to study Advanced Mechatronics Technology.

We spoke to Idrissa about his accomplishments and the role RAS through our partner Peace Builders has played in his life. Here’s what he had to say:


Q: Do you see a difference in yourself from when you started at the Center until now?

A: Yes! A big difference! Before I came to the Center, I was getting suspended from school and stealing. Going to counseling at the Center helped me work through these issues. I’ve regained my confidence and have become a productive member of society. I’ve been taking my studies seriously. When I finish college, I’m going to be able to take care of my family and give back to my community.

Q: Do you have a memorable moment at the Center you can share with us?

A: I really appreciate everything the Center has done for me. My family was struggling financially. I couldn’t afford to pay my school fees. I was stressed. My academics suffered.  The Center stepped in and paid my fees from level 3 to level 5. I wouldn’t have been able to finish high school if it wasn’t for them.

Q: What was your biggest challenge while you were finishing your high school education?

A: There was a time when school got overwhelming for me. I was taking so many courses at the same time. I didn’t feel like the tutors at school prepared me for my exams. I was nervous I wouldn’t do well. The Center intervened and offered to help me study every day. They constantly encouraged me and pushed me to reach my full potential. I ended up passing my exams and had some of the highest scores in my grade.

Q: What are your plans for the future?

A: I want to be an engineer and work for a big company. I want to support my family and support the Center so more kids can reach those same heights.

Q: How does your family and the other boys at Center feel about this?

A: My family has a lot of respect for me. They’ve seen how hard I’ve worked. They constantly encourage me. It feels good to know I’m making them proud. The boys at the Center know far I’ve come. I’m glad I can be a role model to them. I hope my story will motivate them to go as far as earning their master’s. These are my brothers. We have survived this together. I want to be an example for them. If I could make it this far, there’s no telling what they can do.

A word from our founder, Alphonsine Anderson:

It brings me immense gratitude to watch an amazing young man Idrissa has become. His success and hope for a better future is the very reason I started Rising Above the Storms. To inspire those who have lost hope that there’s a second chance, and that they too can make it. Idrissa is our very first youth to graduate high school and continue on with higher education, on a scholarship. I am very hopeful that there will be more Idrissas. I’m beyond proud of him. I am grateful to have been able to connect with him this past Christmas while in Rwanda, and snapped a photo with him, and his 2 siblings who are also part of our program.

But this wouldn’t have been possible without the help and support of so many; our Board of Directors, US team, our Rwanda partner, you, our donors, sponsors, supporters and fans. You are all making my dream of empowering future generations, and for that I am forever grateful.

Our work continues. Will you join us as we continue to empower vulnerable youth?

Click here to donate and more. Your contributions do so much to improve the lives of our youth.

  • You can sponsor a K-12 student at $50/mo. This amount covers basic needs for a child to participate in life changing programs at the Center
  • If you are a Cisco employee, Cisco matches your donations to RAS. Please visit our Light at the End of the Storm Campaign at https://cisco.brightfunds.org/organizations/rising-above-the-storms.

Please share and like our social media pages found at the bottom of our RAS page.

The Meaning of Love

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we at Rising Above the Storms want to share with you some of the things we love. We love the undying resilience the children show through their daily plight. We love how their progress continues to inspire and draw other lost children to the Center.

We’ve made a couple New Year’s Resolutions this year including starting a college fund and expanding our extracurricular programs, including soccer. We love where our program is headed this year and look forward to sharing our progress with you soon.

We are proud to introduce you to Evode Ndayishimiye. Evode is one of the children at our Center who we interviewed on his interpretation of the meaning of love. Here’s how it went:

Q: What does St. Valentine’s Day mean to you?

A: Valentine’s Day is the day we celebrate true love.

Q: Who do you love more than anybody in this world?

A: My mother, of course!

Q: How does your mother show you she loves you?

A: She cares for me, washes my clothes, feeds me, and makes sure I’m healthy.

Q: What about you? How do you show your mom that you love her?

A: I listen to her and help out around the house.

Q: Who else do you love? Why?

A: The staff at the Peace Builders center. They host so many activities for us. They are great mentors!

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What does soccer have to do with our goals and priorities this year? Well, it’s what they love. Soccer has not only been a strategic way to get children to the center to start their process, but it has been a healthy way for them to escape their troubles, even for only a short while. It’s where they recharge.

Our children have families whom they also love. A part of what we do when we rescue them from the streets is connect them back with their families. We encourage the children to continue their education and we work with their families on enhancing their parenting skills. As they go on, the children have restored a love for themselves.

We employ you to take a moment to remember and cherish what you love.

Will you  join us to continue to create an environment of love and safety for our children?

Click here to donate and spread love from across the globe. Your contributions do so much to improve the lives of our youth.

  • •You can sponsor a K-12 student at $50 a month. This amount covers basic needs for a child to participate in life changing programs at the Center
  • •If you are a Cisco employee, Cisco matches your donations to RAS. Please follow this link: Light at the End of the Storm Campaign.
  • •You can donate on our website: Ways to Help.

You can share and like our social media pages found at the bottom of our RAS page.

Something as Simple as a Plate of Food

As we reflect on our Thanksgiving celebrations in the United States, feasts filled with turkey, potatoes, stuffing, and more, let us take time to remember the less fortunate around the world. I personally know what it’s like to be hungry. After losing my parents, there were times I went for days without food. Since founding Rising Above the Storms, it is critical and our top priority that there is always food for every child that visits our Center in Rwanda. Even when they show up unannounced, they can count on the Center for something to eat. If a hot meal is the deciding factor between going to school and quitting on themselves, I want to do something about it. 

Many of our youth come from poor, single-parent households struggling with food security. Hunger is one of the main reasons why our youth drop out of school. Our youth end up in the streets in search of food, often begging and committing acts of desperation. How can a child hope to graduate high school when their basic needs aren’t even being met?

Food provides energy and fuel for growth. With counseling and an action plan to finish their education, a child can grow to be many things. They can grow beyond their current circumstances to be leaders, inspirations, and catalysts of change in their communities. They can rise above the storms. A plate of food can make all the difference in their journey.

The Center is their place of refuge, their lighthouse. We host regular activities for the children. Soccer has become one of our core counseling tools to help transform their behaviors and build better lives. We plan to expand and include more extracurricular activities. We encourage them to make their way to the Center for food and temporary shelter. We continue to show our youth an alternative to the street. Our Center fosters a loving environment inspiring our youth to learn, grow, and achieve; all starting with something as simple as a plate of food.

We invite you to join in to commit a $50/month recurring donation that ensures that a hot meal (and other necessities) will be available for each child as they visit the center.

If you are a Cisco employee, I encourage you to give on Bright Funds and Cisco will match your donation up to $25,000 a year. A lighthouse is a beacon of strength, a symbol of hope. These children need a lighthouse. We can be their beacon of strength!

My name is Assouman

My name is Assouman UwimanaI. I am 16 years old and have been at the Center since 2018. Before joining Rising Above the Storms, I was in a gang. But then I joined counseling sessions and I got off the streets and reunited with my family.

They helped me return to school. Thanks to their support, I passed the national exam this year to qualify for Senior 4 (10th grade in the US) and to major in Food Processing at EFA Nyagatatre. I have studied hard and am one of the best students in my class. My mother is very proud and supportive. My dream is to start my own food processing business. I am excited for what the future has in store for me. Thank you to everyone who has read my story and continued to support us!

Learn more about how you can help our kids:

https://www.brightfunds.org/funds/the-light-at-the-end-of-the-storm

My name is Irangishatse

My name is Irangishatse Nshuti. I am 19 years old, in my first year of high school, and have been with the Center in Rwanda since 2018. Before Rising Above the Storms, I was in the streets exposed to harsh weather conditions and dangerous animals. My future was uncertain. I sought solace in drugs to curb my fear and depression. I have changed. Now, life is meaningful. I value my studies and my family. I dream of becoming a mechanical engineer. I am part of the RAS and Amahoro Builders family. I am grateful for the person I have become. I am surrounded by other children I can relate to. A former street child has now become a responsible man! It’s just amazing. Thank you to everyone who has read my story and continued to support us!

Learn more about how you can help our kids:

https://www.brightfunds.org/funds/the-light-at-the-end-of-the-storm

My name is Isaac

My name is Isaac Byiringiro. I am 15 years old, in my first year of high school, and have been with the Center in Rwanda since 2018. Before joining Amahoro Builders, I was hopeless. I was on drugs. I slept in an abandoned building.

The Center has helped me restore my faith in self. My mother is proud of me and my entire community can see the transformation I’ve made. I’m back in school, studying hard, and even helping at home with chores. I hope to become a professional soccer player and want to further my education. Who knows, maybe even a phD… Why not?

Learn more about how you can help our kids:

https://www.brightfunds.org/funds/the-light-at-the-end-of-the-storm

Success Story: Idrissa Dusengimana

As a child, life became difficult for Idrissa and his siblings when his parents separated. His mother was left with the children and did not have the resources to satisfy their basic needs. Feeling neglected and abused, Idrissa turned to a life on the streets, stealing food and only returning home late at night to sleep. Education was not a priority to him, and he attended school for only a few days during his early childhood.

At the age of 15 years old, he received an invitation to attend counseling at the Center. His mental health and motivation improved drastically. His mother was impressed by her son’s improvements and attended counseling as well three months later. This was a remarkable success, and they subsequently enrolled in family counseling to further develop a healthy relationship.

With this intervention and education, Idrissa readily reintegrated into school and made tremendous progress. At 19 years old, he is now a well-disciplined pupil in senior six, always first in the class with exceptional marks. Idrissa has undertaken vocational training in general mechanics and looks forward to becoming a mechanical engineer at the highest level.

Read more success stories and learn about our organization’s impact in our 2020 Annual Report.

Success Story: Irumva Daniel

Born to a teenage mother without the means to take care of him, Daniel was left as a baby to be raised by his grandmother. He grew up feeling frustrated with his home life, constantly asking to live with his mother who routinely turned him away. Attempting to fill the void in his heart created by a lack of a loving home environment, Daniel dedicated his energy to life on the streets. He had no choice but to engage in destructive behaviors to survive the harsh conditions.

During this challenging period of his life, Daniel accepted an invitation to attend counseling for one year accommodated by Amahoro Builders. He started P1 at the age of 12 and became a driven student who flawlessly hit his academic targets. With help from the Center, he pursued family counseling with his mother and grandmother and began rekindling and rebuilding their relationship. At last, his desire to build a loving home was coming true.

He is currently 16 years old, studying in P4, and lives with his mother. Through the adversity faced in the streets during early childhood, he has developed exemplary resilience that he carries forth to this day. He has refocused his energy on his studies and become a responsible, level-headed student. After completing P6, Daniel intends to go into welding. Outside of studies, Daniel is a talented striker on the football (soccer) team and plans to become the best player in the world.

Read more success stories and learn about our organization’s impact in our 2020 Annual Report.