Aug 4, 2017

Women's Empowerment at ASYV - LIFT HER UP, He for She, and More

Peace Grace introduces Lift Her Up
Peace Grace introduces Lift Her Up

The Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village heals and inspires Rwanda’s most vulnerable youth, transforming them into the next generation of ethical leaders. For us to succeed at turning traumatized children into confident and motivated change-makers, we need all of our students to believe that they can lead like ASYV alumna Peace Grace, founder of a new girl’s empowerment initiative called LIFT HER UP (LHU).

A graduate of our Class of 2013, Peace Grace is now majoring in Women’s Studies and International Relations at Agnes Scott College. Already the co-founder of ASYV’s Female Solidarity Legacy, a student group for girls focused on achieving gender equality, Peace Grace has continued her work for women by bringing something new to Agahozo-Shalom. Collaborating with the current members of Female Solidarity Legacy and Girl Up ASYV, a student group dedicated to teaching girls how to become “independent and self-reliant,” she designed LIFT HER UP. An expansive project with incredible potential, LIFT HER UP brings a remarkable series of educational workshops and panels to the Village.

Through LIFT HER UP, Peace Grace has spent this summer making a meaningful difference. Alumnae, including Peace Grace herself and Immaculee, who currently studies Public Health at Arizona State University, have come back to the Village to give advice and speak to their post-graduation experiences. Representatives of notable gap-year programs like Bridge2Rwanda have also visited to explain how the young women of the Village could benefit from their programs, and to help mentor our students in writing effective personal statements. LIFT HER UP’s most recent panel discussion even featured speakers like Laurie Toll Franz, Chair of ASYV’s Board of Directors, and Denise Umunyana, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of a Rwandan human resources start-up called Right Seat. They answered questions, discussed their professional experiences and encounters with sexism in the workplace, and counselled our students.

Moving forward, our students and alumni hope that LIFT HER UP will soon bring even more to the young women of Rwanda. Beyond plans to hold career guidance workshops in the near future, members of Female Solidarity Legacy and Girl Up ASYV also intend to introduce LHU to other schools around the country. As Peace Grace has said, LIFT HER UP is about teaching girls to lift each other up, and the girls of Agahozo-Shalom are planning to do just that, both for each other and for women across Rwanda. Thanks to these programs, as well as new opportunities like He for She, a gender-equality focused student group recently founded by the young men of the Village, all of our kids will soon have the support they need to make a difference as real leaders in Rwanda and around the world.

Immaculee , Ornella, and other alumnae give advice
Immaculee , Ornella, and other alumnae give advice
Lift Her Up visits AVEGA, widows of the genocide
Lift Her Up visits AVEGA, widows of the genocide

Links:

May 8, 2017

Entrepreneurship and Career Readiness at Agahozo-Shalom

Agribusiness on the Entrepreneurship Field Trip
Agribusiness on the Entrepreneurship Field Trip

As a holistic learning community designed to heal and educate Rwanda’s most vulnerable youth, one of our top priorities at The Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village is to prepare our students for life after graduation. Through Formal Education and Life Enrichment Applied Programs, we strive to ensure that our kids are ready for higher education and sustainable employment. Because of a renewed emphasis on entrepreneurship, computer literacy, and English comprehension, we believe that our future graduates should be better equipped than ever before to lead fulfilling adult lives. We are excited to give you a glimpse into how these programs have already begun to change lives in the first term of 2017.

Rwanda is counting on young entrepreneurs to carry its rapid development forward, and thanks to your generosity our students are eager to contribute. With two years dedicated to studying personal finance, goal setting, and agribusiness, and one year dedicated to generating a realistic business plan, we are confident that our graduates will have a meaningful part to play in Rwanda’s burgeoning economy. In Term 1 of 2017, our S6 students even had the opportunity to go on an Entrepreneurship Field Trip with TechnoServe. Visiting five sites across Kayonza District, our kids enjoyed hands-on learning experiences with local entrepreneurs and met low-tech, low-cost innovators in accessible fields like agriculture and construction to gain a better appreciation for how they could create jobs to support themselves.

Rwandan employers have also identified a skill-gap in their country, and our computer literacy program is preparing our kids to help close this gap. With 90 new laptops and a robust curriculum already in action, our students are rapidly gaining experience in key programs like Microsoft Word. Many of our kids had never even touched a computer before coming to the Village, which makes their growing talent for typing and editing documents, including CV’s and cover letters, all the more impressive. Combined with an introduction to the basics of hardware and software in Term 1 of 2017, we believe that this level of computer literacy is critical to breaking the cycle of poverty.

Finally, with Rwanda’s rapid pivot to the East African Community, the English language has become integral to both education and commerce. By focusing on four key skills – listening, speaking, reading, and writing, our revised program strategy is creating an immersive learning environment capable of giving our students the confidence they need to succeed. According to Naomi, our English Enrichment Fellow, English education in Term 1 of 2017 was both fun and innovative. Reviewing the basics of speech, verb tenses, and introductions, our youngest students expanded their English vocabularies. One student named Diane even managed to read 20 novels in just six weeks. As they get ready to tackle storytelling and reading comprehension in Term 2, our latest Enrichment Year has already gained the solid foundation they need to master the language.

In the ten years since we first broke ground on our Village, your compassion and abiding support have allowed us to transform 1,130 young Rwandans into true leaders and ethical change-makers. As we enter our second decade of operation, we hope that you will stand by us in making a difference for the children of Rwanda. 

Students Visit Kayonza District with TechnoServe
Students Visit Kayonza District with TechnoServe
Students Practice Typing and Online Research
Students Practice Typing and Online Research
Comics Help Introduce our Students to English
Comics Help Introduce our Students to English

Links:

Feb 6, 2017

Rwanda's Future Leaders

Bella, Desange, and Merci
Bella, Desange, and Merci

The Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village is home to an incredibly diverse and talented student family. Representing each of Rwanda's 30 districts, our 528 kids have overcome terrible hardships to earn a rich and rewarding education. Each of our students has accomplished so much, and they could not be more grateful for your support. Truly, it is thanks to your compassion and generosity that students like Merci, Desange, and Bella have the knowledge and resources they need to succeed. We hope you take heart in their courage:

Before coming to the Village, Merci lived with her mother, brother, and two of her five sisters in Kicukiro District, Kigali Province. Her mother could not find reliable work and often struggled to pay her children's school fees. While Merci was able to attend a local girl's school, her education was always at risk. With your steadfast backing, Agahozo-Shalom was there to lend a hand. Now entering her third year in the Village, Merci has become an accomplished student of physics, chemistry, and biology, and has found her calling in medicine. Having served as our Student Government's Minister of Health, she hopes to study medicine abroad while joining "the effort for gender equality worldwide."

Living with her mother and two sisters in Musanze District, Northern Province, Desange's family was often unable to afford her education. Your giving made it possible for her to leave those worries behind, however, when she came to ASYV. Now a student of mathematics, economics, and computer science, Agahozo-Shalom has improved Desange's "confidence and...English skills." These strengths have empowered her to serve as our Student Government's Minister of Student Initiatives, a position that she says allows her "to be the voice for those who have ideas but lack the confidence and conviction to share them." With a plan to study business and information technology in the United States, Desange hopes to contribute to Rwanda's development by starting her own business.

Bella lived with her mother, sister, and two brothers before attending Agahozo-Shalom. Much like Merci and Desange, Bella's mother struggled to pay her children's school fees. When Bella learned of her admittance to Agahozo-Shalom, she felt "overjoyed." She knew that her mother would never again have to worry about the cost of her education. An eager student of mathematics, economics, and geography, Bella has served as our Student Government's Minister of Education and helped our debate team win at the national level in 2016. Thanks to your help, Bella now dreams of studying politics and economics in the United States, and finding work with the Rwandan Ministry of Education.

Thank you for taking the time to learn just a bit about Merci, Desange, and Bella. We know that these bright young people will build a better future for Rwanda and the world, and it is because of you that they can do more than dream of a brighter tomorrow. They can achieve it. Once again, murakoze cyane (thank you very much).

If you would like to learn more about Merci, Desange, and Bella, please visit the "Meet Our Students" page on our website.

Merci
Merci
Desange
Desange
Bella
Bella

Links:

 
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