Young Leader Willy Mutabazi Shares His Top Moments From YTH Live

This year’s YTH Live conference was an extraordinary one; we had so many fantastic speakers, engaging conversations, lucrative giveaways, inspiring plenaries, and of course, great food.

At YTH Live, we pride ourselves on not just talking the talk of youth empowerment, but walking the walk. Our conference features young people at every level of involvement, from our opening plenary speakers like Julia Heilrayne, to our Youth Advisory Board helping to inform the planning and execution of the event, even down to our attendees, 25% of which are youth leaders. This year, one of these young leaders was Willy Mutabazi, a Rwandan youth influencer and innovator.  After spending much of his childhood living on the streets, Willy was connected to a filmmaker who featured Willy in a documentary about youth and dance. That experience inspired Willy to create his own documentary, titled Kigali Street Kids, which brought him international notoriety. Today, Willy is a jack of all trades: he’s a model, actor, and youth influencer in Kigali, where he works with a variety of NGOs supporting youth health in Rwanda.

We were honored to have Willy as both an attendee of the conference, as well as a speaker on our Global Youth Led Innovation panel at our Monday Morning plenary. As he traveled all the way from Rwanda to be with us in San Francisco, his participation at YTH Live was sponsored by the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs and the YTH Technology Advisory Board. In order to reflect on YTH Live from the perspective of the young people that we build this conference with and for, we asked Willy to share some of his favorite moments from the event. Here’s what he had to say:

1. The Connections I Made

At the conference, I met lot of people that I could potentially work with. As a jack-of-all-trades (I work in a lot of different industries from being a tourism entrepreneur to acting and modeling), I’m always looking to make new connections and find like-minded people and organizations to get involved in. There were so many opportunities for networking and I made many valuable connections that will last far beyond the conference.

2. The Level of Youth Participation

I was amazed that there were actually a lot of young people at the conference…and who were in control! Youth were not just there in attendance, but actually leading. I was impressed at how many speakers and panelists throughout the conference were young people. Many other youth conferences don’t have a large number of young people there, so this was very refreshing to experience.

3. Seeing How Technology Can Be Used For Good

Getting to see and hear how technology is being used to improve health and awareness was one of the best parts of YTH Live. There were so many amazing innovations, apps, social media campaigns, and new platforms that not only were incredible in and of themselves but were being used to improve the lives of young people. Many of these solutions were also piloted by young people themselves, which, as a youth leader myself, was inspiring.

4. The Planning and Execution

Finally, I was so amazed at how well YTH did in organizing the conference. Everything ran so smoothly, had a lot of thought behind it, and made sense; I never had to ask myself where something was happening or experience confusion as to what was happening next or what to expect. They really thought about every detail: the conference had plenty of food throughout, a fun photo booth, networking opportunities between sessions, and staff who were incredibly responsive.


We’re so glad to have had Willy participate at YTH Live 2019; thank you again for sharing your thoughts, talents, and inspiring work with us!

For more information about Willy, connect with him on Facebook here or follow him on Instagram @willymuta.

ZonaSegura ZonaSegura is a trauma-informed youth-centered innovative mobile solution to address teen dating violence in Honduras. Learn more about ZonaSegura on our program page.