Murakoze cyane (thank you so much) for your personal commitment to making a difference!
"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." - T.S. Eliot
As you enter the Village gates, you are greeted with one of the Village mottos, "If you see far, you will go far." With the help of the ASYV family, every child has the opportunity to see far - to sit somewhere, look far in the distance over the Land of a Thousand Hills, and say, "There's no limit to where I am going."
Our ability to move our vision forward is critical to the millions of vulnerable and marginalized youth in Rwanda - kids for whom Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village is a last chance. Thanks to YOU, our Village and kids are thriving.
2013 was another meaningful year for ASYV, full of progrss and hope. The progress we've made so far is a testament to where we are going. Click on the pdf below to view the Annual Report.
A Note From Our Village Director --
If I could describe this term in one word it would be, intense. The second term is the longest of the year, spanning about 14 weeks. These weeks are packed with a variety of different activities for both students and staff. We had three major projects this term - the Stand Up & Be Counted fundraisers that took place in New York City, Boston, and here in the Village for our rst-ever Stand Up & Be Counted Rwanda. We knew these events would be different than in past years because of the loss of our dear friend, founder, and Grandmother to the kids, Anne Heyman. We prepared a larger group of kids than in past years to attend the events in the United States. As a result of these kids’ hard work and with the support of our contributors we were able to raise over one million dollars. These back-to-back events were amazing successes!
We also hosted our own Stand Up Rwanda on July 10th. We reached our goal for raising close to $100,000 dollars. I am so humbled by our community of supporters who saw Agahozo-Shalom as a place worth investing in. Stand Up & Be Counted Rwanda was amazing because we knew it was something that Anne really hoped to bring to fruition. She always articulated the importance of reaching out to the Rwandan community and Rwandan nationals to raise awareness about the ASYV. Anne wanted to give the Rwandan people the opportunity to invest in the future of Rwanda through supporting the youth of ASYV. We believe that $100,000 was a solid target and we are proud that we achieved this goal. On top of all of this, Rwanda’s First Lady, Her Excellency Jeannette Kagame, was the guest of honor at the event. This is a demonstration of the very strong support we are receiving from the First Lady as well as from the President of Rwanda, Mr. Paul Kagame, who was the keynote speaker at the graduation of our Urumuli Grade in 2013.
Additionally, we are proud that some of Anne’s other dreams have been realized through new business initiatives taking root in Rwanda. The rst of which is the solar project that lies just behind the Liquidnet Family High School, within the property limit of the ASYV. The project brought 250 jobs to local Rwamagana residents who work on the site, including some ASYV graduates. The solar plant will provide about 8.5 megawatts, which is approximately 8% of the energy in Rwanda. This shows the great impact that ASYV is having on the surrounding community and the ripple effect that reaches far beyond our gates. The second is the creation of See Far Enterprises, a Business Product Outsourcing company in partnership with UST Global. ASYV graduates will comprise 50% of See Far’s incoming workforce. They will work for this company to hone their professional skills and emerge as valuable and experienced laborers.
The goal for next term is to focus on making sure that we complete the year successfully. More specically, I am talking about the kids’ academic performances. We are preparing our Senior 6 students (12th grade) to take the national exam, and we hope they will perform as strongly as the previous graduates. We want all of our students to nish their year with academic marks that show their improvement. Next term will be a much calmer term in comparison to this past one. We want to consolidate and digest everything that has taken place in the past 14 weeks. The rst term was marked by the death of our dear founder and the second term was overtaken by the commencement of some major projects. Next term we will refocus our efforts on why we’re here - the kids and their education.
This year started off on a great note! We had a wonderful graduation for our Imbuto Grade and were blessed to have ourfounder and mother Anne Heyman in our presence. As is true for all of Anne’s visits, her time with us was incrediblyenlightening and inspiring. Anne reminded us of how unique the Village is in its existence and expressed her pride in all of ASYV’s accomplishments in such a short period of time. In memory of Anne’s relentless drive we are motivated to push forward with our future initiatives. Her confidence and determination encourages us to reach our goals for 2014 tomake our Village a place that is more holistic in the healing of our kids.
The day of Anne’s passing, January 31st, 2014, was devastating for Agahozo-Shalom as well as for the country of Rwanda. Yet, in the midst of despair, we saw great resilience. We are inspired in Anne’s passing to ensure that her dreams for ASYV live on. This sentiment is confirmed by her husband Seth Merrin as well as our dedicated Board of Directors. We are continually amazed and blessed by the support we receive from her husband and children. The students of ASYV are deeply appreciative of their devotion. Their commitment to the Village has given ASYV students and staff the strength they need to stand strong.
Anne was an angel on earth and we feel lucky to have felt her impact. While it is difficult to move past Anne’s departure, we are doing our best to restore the rhythm of life within ASYV. In honor of Anne, we must put the pieces back together and strive forward for her and for the children. The foundation that Anne laid for Agahozo-Shalom is so strong that we can already see tangible results. In our continued collaboration with the Rwandan Government, Liquidnet Family High School is now recognized as a government-subsidized institution. Outside of our gates, Anne has single handedly helped to bring together the biggest solar field in the region, which will bring up to 8.5 mega watts to Rwanda’s national energy grid - close to 10% of the national electricity consumption. The impact of Anne’s work is not only evident within the Village, but also throughout the nation of Rwanda. We continue to hear amazing things about our students postgraduation. They are considered leaders within their communities. Many of our graduates have joined the Ingando and Urugerero rograms, which are national youth programs that facilitate volunteer services within local communities.This indicates that our students are taking to heart the value of Tikkun Olam, which Anne strived to instill in each student at Agahozo-Shalom. This is one of the best achievements we could hope for our graduates.
ASYV will go on innovating its enrichment programs as exemplified through the introduction of our own national Stand Up & Be Counted Event that will take place in the Village on July 10, 2014. This is the first Stand Up event we will have in Rwanda, and it will require the collaboration of every staff, student, and department. We are looking forward to sharing the diverse accomplishments of our community with all of our local partners and supporters.
ASYV will go on innovating its enrichment programs as exemplified through the introduction of our own national Stand Up Event that will take place in the Village this summer. This is the first Stand-Up event we will have at ASYV and it will require the collaboration of every staff member, student, and department. We are looking forward to sharing thediverse accomplishments of our community with all of our local partners and supporters.
I told the ASYV students that the best way to sustain Anne’s legacy is to become the best person that each of them can be. I encouraged them to set their minds to achieve great things and live a life of fulfillment in the spirit of Tikkun Olam. To our educators, I quoted Anne in saying: “Education is the gift that keeps on giving.” With that in mind, I want them to continue giving that gift to our students so they can reach their full potential.
This is the message that must transcend from us to the the ASYV children and from the ASYV children to the rest of the world. Agahozo-Shalom kids will pay it forward! They will give 100% in all things that they do. In order for them to achieve this goal we must ensure the quality of our programs and build on the achievements that Agahozo-Shalom has already realized. This is only the beginning for Agahozo-Shalom, and with Anne’s vision, I know we willcontinue to achieve great success and make the educational philosophy of ASYV a model for education known across the world.
Jean-Claude NkulikiyimfuraVillage Director
On 8 February 2014, members of the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village Board and our Executive Director joined the Village community in Rwanda, along with dignitaries, government officials, and friends and partners from across the globe in celebrating the extraordinary life and legacy of our beloved founder, friend and Mother of our entire Village community, Anne Heyman.
We found the Village sad and mourning, but coming together as a family, exactly in the way Anne had always envisioned; full of strength, purpose and love. We arrived bringing a message of hope and courage, and found ourselves being healed in return. It was not only the current 500 students and staff with whom we found support and comfort, but also the 200 plus alumni who came home to care for their younger brothers and sisters.
With the blessing of the Village and the Heyman-Merrin family, we are very pleased to announce that we are taking the needed steps to continue Anne’s legacy, vision and the future of The Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village. To this end, the Board of Directors has elected Laurie Toll Franz as our Board Chair. We are fully confident that Laurie embodies the values, commitment and passion to lead the Village along the path Anne Heyman had envisioned for us.
On behalf of the Board, we would like to thank the entire community, new friends and old, for your unwavering support and encouragement. “We never sit and wish, we dream and act”, said Innocent, one of Anne’s Rwandan children as Anne watched proudly as any Mother would at January’s ASYV graduation. Anne's love and commitment lives on.
There is no limit to what we can do together. The ASYV family stands strong.
The Board of Directors, Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village
Students come to Agahozo-Shalom from all corners of Rwanda. In their first year, the emphasis in the Village is on Tikkun Ha’lev, healing of the heart, which is seen as a necessary step in the mission of Agahozo-Shalom. One must heal him or herself before he or she can fulfill the obligation of helping others.
In their first year, students not only become physically healthier, through medical care and good nutrition, but they also meet with social workers, learn to live the Core Values of the Village, take their first creative (and therapeutic) courses in art, music, sport, carpentry and cooking and spend time really getting to know themselves and each other.
During these first months at Agahozo-Shalom, students visibly blossom.
Many students arrive on their first day in the Village alone, with fierce defence mechanisms to match their feeling of isolation. Many move into the Village with just the clothes on their back, some carry small paper bags with some belongings, and all carry a sense of distrust and wearied sadness. Over the course of a day, a week, a month, ASYV youth shed their hardened exteriors and laugh openly with their Village family. They learn to dream and envision a future filled with hope, and commit themselves to working hard in order to achieve their goals.
On December 28th, 2013 ASYV welcomed our newest Enrichment Year students to the Village! Travelling from Rwanda’s 30 districts, 128 children and their families poured into Agahozo-Shalom. They were greeted by the smooth sounds of ASYV’s own Indatwa Jazz Band. Nerves were eased as a satisfying lunch of samosas, sweet breads and tea were passed out to hungry and exhausted travelers. Village Director, Jean-Claude Nkulikiyimfura, gave a warm speech welcoming new students and encouraged them to take advantage of all the opportunities Agahozo-Shalom has to offer. After lunch, families were escorted to the stadium for the celebratory tradition of receiving their family assignments. Agahozo-Shalom is structured in the image of a family home with a Rwandan Mama and older sibling. In this way, students are integrated into the supportive fabric of the Village from their first day. For our enrichment students, this proved to be a very exciting moment. Smiling mamas, big sisters, and brothers waited anxiously to receive their new sons, daughters, or siblings. As names were called, families began to take form and new students officially joined the family structure of the Village. It is important for the new students to understand the significance of their families and to consider their fellow students and caretakers as their advocates. Families serve to provide whatever support they may need in the coming years. Mama Marie Claire, a five-year veteran of Agahozo-Shalom, stated to her girls on their first night, “we are all one now.” She reiterated the importance of self-confidence, motivation, and self-respect. Mama Marie Claire knows that each student will evolve into a poised ASYV pupil. Each year she welcomes this transformation and feels honored to witness such displays of strength.
To see a video from arrival day, click here
To see a photo slideshow from the first day, click here
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Development & Communications Manager