“Some of us were so vulnerable and naive that we had considered using alcohol and drugs to get through the days. But now we can look at the future with hope, thanks to the skills that we have acquired. We are no longer orphans as we have each other as family now.” - Pacifique Rutamu, Imbuto Grade ASYV Graduate
On January 9th, 2014, Agahozo-Shalom proudly welcomed the Imbuto Grade of 2013 into its alumni network! These students are bold examples of the stunning transformation that takes place within the gates of ASYV. They came to the Village in 2010 from broken homes and impoverished backgrounds. On this day, they stood alongside their fellow classmates as well-educated professionals. They are accomplished singers, athletes, dancers, writers, scientists, and musicians. The class of 2013 is compiled of children who were once considered among Rwanda’s most vulnerable. Four years later, “vulnerable” is no longer a word that is applicable to this group of scholars. Many are eager to continue their studies in University both domestically and abroad, others want to start their own business, others still want to return to their communities and share the life skills they learned during their 4 years at Agahozo-Shalom. They are talented, motivated and possess the professional skills necessary to blaze forward as change-makers in the world. Founder, Anne Heyman, was present at the graduation ceremony and expressed her profound joy of being able to provide students with the opportunity to fulfill their potential.
Graduate Nadia Umutoni prepared a poem which she performed at the graduation ceremony to express her feelings of gratitude.
I found myself an orphan
Rejected by my family at 3 years old
I lived in the shadows for many years.
Missing the silhouette of my father
I've never known the happiness of saying "Mom."
A loud voice whispers in my ear
"Unhappiness killed your father"
I lived in hatred, believing and exorcising my pain
The future seemed as bleak as the years before.
I was alone in the world, nobody could understand my pain.
I had no more taste to live.
Chance or fate that is where my life took a turn.
So I left the shadow to go towards the light.
Today we see growth through the eyes of our children.
The war? Being an orphan? Desperate?
No, nothing scares us because Agahozo-Shalom is there for us to dry our tears.
Success! A dream came true because if you see far you will go far.
We are the Rwanda of tomorrow, the strength of our heritage.
We will make the difference.
Par Nadia Umutoni
We congratulate our graduates and look forward of hearing of their future endeavors! We wish them the best of luck!
To view a photo slideshow of the day's festivities, click here
Submitted by Sasha Friedman, 2014 Agahozo-Shalom Village Fellow