Seeing great potential in their son, Loic Rwagasana’s parents decided to invest in his future by sending him from Kigali, Rwanda, to Riverside Military Academy (RMA) in 2019. Although their primary goal was for their son to develop independence, they have no doubt been pleased to see him develop in other ways as well. Rising through the ranks to command Delta Company in his senior year, Rwagasana gained invaluable experience leading his peers even as he built lasting relationships and an unmatched camaraderie with his classmates.
Growing up in Rwanda, Rwagasana witnessed economic inequalities, which sparked in him a strong desire to help others. When he returned to his home country during the winter furlough of 2020, he and a friend began a nonprofit called Youth for Youth Rwanda (YYR). The nonprofit’s first initiative was to provide masks to school-aged children because they noticed that many students either did not have masks or wore dirty masks. Using an online system, they quickly raised the funds necessary to address this need.
As Rwagasana and his friend delivered masks to the schools, they saw additional needs. Many parents lost jobs during the pandemic making tuition payments difficult, if not impossible. They also found that many students did not have access to online learning during that time. So began their second nonprofit initiative, which they called Youth for Education. Through this new charitable venture, they reached out to donors and raised an impressive 1.3 million Rwandan francs (around 1,300 US dollars), which covered school costs for 20 students. After they presented the gifts, Rwagasana said, “This evening was heartwarming, especially after calling the school director and the students to tell them the good news. It was one of the most impactful moments of our lives.”
When asked about the difficulties of leading an effective non-profit organization in Rwanda while studying in the United States, Rwagasana said, “While I am at school, the distance is not an issue with me being part of the YYR mission. I enjoy being the idea guy, and I do not need the limelight to know the impact.”
Rwagasana and his friend continue to dream of a future that includes helping others. Their ultimate goals are to represent their country’s youth, support those in less fortunate situations, and develop a community of young people who care for each other. As for the future, Rwagasana indicated that he and his friend are committed to passing the responsibility for this nonprofit on to others saying, “I am proud to see that so many young people in Rwanda are willing to be a part of the change, become the change, and inspire the change.”