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Jan 31, 2018

Our Class of 2021 Joins the ASYV Family

New students assemble for the welcome ceremony.
New students assemble for the welcome ceremony.

The Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village is thrilled to announce the arrival of our Class of 2021! After an extensive recruitment process, during which our family mamas worked diligently and compassionately to interview prospective students in each of Rwanda’s five provinces, our team selected 128 at-risk orphaned youth to join ASYV as our latest Enrichment Year. To help them acclimate to life in the Village before the start of classes on January 22nd, we invited 124 of these incredible kids to join us at ASYV on December 28, 2017. *

Traveling from across the country, many of our newest students felt a mixture of excitement and trepidation as they passed through our gates for the very first time. With Jean-Claude Nkulikiyimfura, Executive Director, and Vincent Kalimba, Village Director, waiting to greet them with warm hugs and welcoming words, our staff members reassured them by instantly setting the tone that defines ASYV: the loving support of a caring family. Our new Enrichment Year then assembled in the Village’s Edmond J. Safra Community Center, where a group of ASYV’s older students treated them to a series of inspiring performances. While the rest of our students would not arrive until shortly before the beginning of the new school year, these performances gave our Enrichment Year kids the chance to see what ASYV has meant for their peers and what it could mean for them, too. After Jean-Claude Nkulikiyimfura concluded this year’s welcome ceremony, we assigned the kids of our Class of 2021 to their new student families.

A key aspect of our Parental Wholeness department, our student families are comprised of 16-22 youth, a family mama, and a big brother or big sister. Our Enrichment Year families also benefit from a “cousin,” an international volunteer who acts as a helpful partner in early English-language learning. These student families, which will be made up of the same students for the next four years, give our kids an essential sense of stability and security, many of them for the first time in their lives. Thanks to our family mamas, who serve as live-in staff members, and our big brothers and big sisters, who are often recent graduates of ASYV, our Enrichment Year students are provided with a newfound source of structure and guidance.

Once our kids were introduced to their new families, they had the afternoon to settle in and socialize. Finally, following their first shared dinner, our kids participated in Family Time, a nightly discussion in family groups designed to reinforce our core values, build bonds and support between family members, and maintain an inclusive living environment, before ending their first day at ASYV.

We are so pleased to share that, with the start of the new school year on January 22, 2018, our Class of 2021 is comfortable with life at ASYV and ready to excel. Following our New Year’s Eve celebration, during which our Enrichment Year students performed a song, delivered an original poem, and organized traditional and modern fashion shows and dance performances, we have no doubt that the kids of our Class of 2021 are ready to take advantage of every opportunity ASYV can give them.

We hope you enjoyed this brief look into the arrival of our Class of 2021. If you would like to learn more about their first month in the Village, we invite you to follow the link below to two of our recent blog posts, entitled “A New Beginning: The 2018 Enrichment Year Students Arrive” and “An ASYV New Year’s.” More pictures and information can also be found on our social media pages, where you can read about our Enrichment Year’s first encounter with the Village Farm, which now produces 60% of all food consumed at ASYV. Thanks to your steadfast support, these 128 youth have a new and exciting chance for a better future, and we could not be more grateful. Murakoze cyane (thank you very much)!

* The remaining four students of our Class of 2021, the first Burundian refugees to attend ASYV, were obliged to join us later in January.

Welcoming the new Enrichment Year students.
Welcoming the new Enrichment Year students.
An Enrichment Year family sits for a portrait.
An Enrichment Year family sits for a portrait.
A student family enjoys their first group photo.
A student family enjoys their first group photo.

Links:

Nov 2, 2017

Icyizere Grade Dreams of the Future

Our Class of 2017 aspires to inspire.
Our Class of 2017 aspires to inspire.

On October 19th, the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village celebrated the graduation of our Class of 2017, Icyizere Grade. With our Board of Directors dropping by for a visit and the Director General of Rwanda’s National Industrial Research and Development Agency, Ms. Kampeta Sayinzoga, delivering a stirring speech as our guest of honor, it was a day unlike any other for the kids of ASYV. The sixth class to graduate from our Village, the 123 young people of our Class of 2017 are ready to pay your compassion forward.

Ten years have passed since our Founder, Anne Heyman, broke ground on ASYV. Determined to heal and inspire Rwanda’s most vulnerable orphaned youth, she asked each of our students to dream of a better life and take part in building a better future. The graduates of our Class of 2017 took that message to heart when they named their grade Icyizere, Kinyarwanda for “hope.” Now equipped with the skills and values they need to make a difference at university, in business, and in their home communities, our Class of 2017 graduates will join their 605 older brothers and sisters in setting a positive example that we believe can transform Rwanda and the world.

The event itself was a remarkable display of our students’ unique spirit, with graduates like Pascal-Claudien and Modeste demonstrating an extraordinary enthusiasm for the day’s activities and an inspiring optimism about the future. Pascal-Claudien, also known as N-Pac, worked with Floride to complete a painting for our guest of honor. Originally moved to pursue art in memory of his mother, Pascal-Claudien honed his talent at ASYV and now plans to study art at the university level. We look forward to seeing where he takes his inspiration next. Serving as Class Representative of Icyizere Grade, Modeste is most proud of learning the English language. Unable to communicate in English before coming to ASYV, Modeste is now an accomplished public speaker with dreams of studying law at university. Hoping to one day work for a non-governmental organization on behalf of children everywhere, Modeste is also looking forward to serving as a mentor to future generations of ASYV students. Coming from the most severe poverty and trauma, graduates like Pascal-Claudien and Modeste embody the idea of Icyizere. They have overcome the past in order to create a brighter future.

We hope you enjoyed this brief look into our Class of 2017 graduation ceremony. If you would like to meet a few more of our Icyizere Grade alumni, we invite you to follow the link below to our graduation video: “Icyizere Dreams.” Featuring graduates like Angeline, winner of our 2017 Science Center Competition and now an aspiring biomedical engineer, and Marie-Chantal, winner of our 2017 Business Plan Competition and an aspiring entrepreneur, this video offers a glimpse into the power of your generosity. Thanks to your unwavering support, the young people of our Class of 2017 really can imagine an exciting future full of new possibilities. From all of us at the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, murakoze cyane (thank you very much)!

Modeste delivers a speech during the ceremony.
Modeste delivers a speech during the ceremony.
Pascal-Claudien and Floride complete a painting.
Pascal-Claudien and Floride complete a painting.
The Golda Meir Student Family gathers for a photo.
The Golda Meir Student Family gathers for a photo.

Links:

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:

 
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