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

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