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!


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!

Measuring Your Impact

A little goes a long way: Your donation makes a difference.

It’s a new year and the Rising Above the Storms leadership and committees are busy planning events, creating a new website, and keeping up our fundraising efforts, among other activities. There has been a lot happening with RAS, and we wanted to highlight some new initiatives in the works.

First, we wanted to thank everyone who donated to our Merry and Bright Amazon Wish List over the holidays. We collected nearly two thousand dollars of goods for the children through this donation drive. The school supplies, backpacks, and clothing will all be put to excellent use this coming year!

We are also working toward finding more ways to convey the impact that our donors have on the lives of the kids at the Center. That’s why we’ve decided to share this giving list in the blog; we want you to see that your gift truly makes a difference. Your donations go a long way to help us change lives, one at a time. Here are some examples of the impact your gifts have on the RAS Center and children:

  • $1 – $100 = masks, gloves, 8-10 books for the library, hygiene kits
  • $100 – $500 = field visits, 2 months of skills training, monthly soccer coach
  • $500 – $1000 = one month’s worth of groceries for 30 kids
  • $1000 – $1500 = 12 months of sports activities for the kids

This list is just the beginning. We hope it gives you an idea of how far your generous donations go and that, with help from all of you, we are keeping kids off the streets, fed, counseled, learning new skills, and playing lots of soccer.

Alphonsine in Rwanda at the Learning Center with children

As we move into 2021 (and month 12 of the pandemic!), we wanted to say how grateful we are for all of our supporters, staff, and volunteers. The next time you’re considering a gift to RAS, we hope you’ll take a look at this list we put together. Seeing how far your gift goes shows the impact that you are making on RAS and the children in Rwanda.

Stay tuned for video updates from some of the kids at the Center in next month’s blog.

Everything You Need to Know About Rising Above the Storms

In April of 1994, the genocide against the Tutsi took place in Rwanda. Twenty-six years later, the genocide has continued to show negative impacts on the Tutsi and Rwandan community as we see an increase in vulnerable children and families who have developed poor parenting habits.

Most of our kids grow up under a poor single parent household. This makes finding food a challenge that can cause kids to stop attending school. The parents don’t apply discipline and we often see conflict in the house. This can also push the kids onto the streets.

No matter the story that led them onto the streets, Rising Above the Storms will offer counseling and work with the parent to help the child resume their studies and peaceful living at home. The kids will then continue to have regular peer group counseling at the Center.

Prior to the pandemic, the Center always had regular activities ready for the kids. For instance, the kids would come to the Center on the weekends to play soccer. Soccer has become one of our core counseling tools to help transform their behaviors and build better lives.

The Center also worked with the kids to acquire computer skills to help better their studies.

Rising Above the Storms continues to assess the problems of the Rwandan community to help empower these kids through counseling. We hope that by healing their wounds and helping them plan for a better future through education, we can break the line of poverty among these children and their families.

Sending a Virtual Letter

“I feel insecure and we don’t know when this will end. How much longer will this continue? What will happen to us? Will we continue to have food?”

These are the questions the kids at the Center are asking themselves during the pandemic.

But the one constant in their lives, has been the support they have received from Amahoro Builders and at Rising Above the Storms we believe relationships are everything.

The reality is however, with limited access to the internet (especially during the pandemic), our kids feel their connection to the world slowly slipping.

This is why we started our first virtual letter campaign.

During this campaign, we are asking you to submit words of encouragement or inspiration. It can be a note, a picture, or even a video!

Our goal is to give the kids one of the things they need the most, connection. We all might feel alone, but we hope that if sending this letter proves anything it is that we aren’t.

June 2020: An Update On The Kids Living At The Center

On March 14, 2020 the first cases of the coronavirus were identified in Rwanda. Like many other countries across the globe, the Rwandan government put measures in place to limit the spread of virus. These measures include limiting the gathering of large groups of people and closing schools.

Following official health guidelines, Rising Above the Storms closed the center and requested that the kids stay at their family homes. The four kids who live at the center do continue to stay there and are respecting the lockdown.

All of our staff are also staying home. Yvette Uyisabye, the Office Administrator and Counselor, continues to communicate with others and manage the center online. Fred Gatete, the Accountant and Counselor, is staying near the center and continues to check in on the children who live there. He visits the center twice a week to buy food for the children and provide any basic needs.

However, these visits are about more than just grocery shopping. It’s about keeping them engaged on the latest developments.

For instance, during one of his visits Fred talked to the children about washing their hands and the importance of social distancing two meters from each other. He also tests their knowledge with questions such as, “Do you know why there is a lockdown in Rwanda?’ The kids responded with a resounding “yes” and continued by listing the symptoms of the coronavirus. These questions are also followed up with how they feel about being asked to stay at the center and not go to school.

“At the center, we continue to stay at home, regularly wash our hands with soap and water, social distance, rest, stay involved in home activities to reduce stress, revise our notes, and play individually to keep ourselves busy.”

– Fred Gatete, Accountant and Counselor

All of our employees, responsible of Amahoro Builders and active volunteers are staying connected online to stay informed about the four children at the center and the kids who are at home with their families.

So no matter where you are…

Stay home. Wash your hands reguarly. Keep social distancing. Pray. AMAHORO (be peaceful).

Rising Above the Storms Reaches 500 Likes on Facebook

We’ve just reached 500 likes on our Facebook page! Thank you to everyone who has been with us during this journey. We feel your love and support and appreciate every bit of it.

We launched our first project in Rwanda in January 2017 and since then we’ve done a lot!

  • An additional 16 kids entered our facility in the past 2-3 months alone. We now have about 31 children who are part of our programs.
  • 9 laptops in total were added to the center to empower the kids through technology and boost their confidence and curiosity.
  • Our Learning Center in Rwanda serves as an after school program to help the kids thrive. Between the time that the school year ends and begins, the kids come to the center Monday-Friday to shower, eat, or take part in individual or group counseling. They also come to listen to guest speakers and play soccer.
  • We’ve moved to a bigger facility with plenty of rooms and space for the kids to play and learn.
  • Our Executive Director & Founder Alphonsine Imaniraguha Anderson was selected as the Cisco 2018 Community Hero; she was featured in the Cisco’s Bridge to Possible Brand Campaign to highlight how Cisco empowers its employees to do good in their communities and around the world.

Let’s keep the momentum going!

Help us keep this momentum going by sharing this post with the people you know and recommending that they like our Facebook page.

Thank you again for supporting Rising Above the Storms.