Heroes' Day arrived with a bright blue morning, the fresh air greeting the Agahozo Shalom community and our guests. Everyone began the day assembled underneath the mango tree. It was a good place to start the day as the mango tree is the site of one of the most heroic moments in ASYV history, when Village founder Anne Heyman purchased the surrounding land from 96 different land owners in order to build the village.
On opening day for the Enrichment Year students, the ASYV journey begins for more than 120 students who arrive from throughout Rwanda's 30 districts. From near and far, they came to a bus stop in Rwamagana, from where they were shuttled to Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village. Some of the students traveling from the Western Provinces took motorbikes to Kigali and spent the night in the city before making the trip. All were met by Village mothers and ASYV staff who were eager to welcome the new students and their guardians. Each was greeted with warm hugs, and arms grasping forearms. One by one the students piled into the Village buses to be transported down through a valley of rice fields and farms and up onto the ridge where ASYV is located. The buses pulled into the gates of ASYV, past the colorful walls painted with the words “If you see far, you will go far,” and stopped at the dining hall. The students and guardians unloaded from their shuttles and began signing in with staff at tables on the balcony of the dining hall.
I was one of the first students to enter, and graduate from, the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village.
In ten years, I went from bottom-of-the-pyramid poverty to a fully-funded high school education and before going on to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania.
When I was two years old, the genocide in Rwanda took away my chance to be raised by parents. I became an orphan and grew up in poverty. My grandmother raised me in a one bedroom hut, with a dirt floor, a leaking roof, no electricity, and no water. I would fetch water twice a day walking a total of three miles each trip. The world seemed unfair and I had no hope for change because education was not guaranteed in Rwanda. Needless to say, things turned out differently. At 17, I was selected from among the poorest students in my village to be admitted into Agahozo-Shalom.
There I met Anne Heyman, my hero and inspiration, who constantly reminded us that the future is as big as we want it to be.
While October 19th may have been a very normal day for most people in Rwanda, it was anything but at the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village. Cloudy skies loomed overhead holding back rain, mushanana-clad educators ran around campus and green capped and gowned students eagerly took pictures with their Village families.
Nicholas Navarro joined the University of Pennsylvania Hillel's service learning trip to ASYV this past May for an unforgettable week exploring the Village and Rwanda.
Nicholas is the highest fundraiser of any service trip participant in 2017 to date. We caught up with Nicholas to hear more about his experience visiting the Village and his tips on how to be a successful peer-to-peer fundraiser.
Click below to read more!
Is it true that humanity can be restored? Is it possible to turn an angry face, depression, and broken heart into a smiling face, happiness and a healing heart to save the community? Why do we have mercy for others who are suffering? How does love to create friendship arise? What does it take to realize our dreams? These questions can be answered by my brief story describing my life changes at ASYV in four years.
July 3, 2017
In this next exciting installment of ASYV's Student Government Newsletter, check out the Core Values quiz, Comments on Culture and some exciting shoutouts - like a shoutout to our incredible Girls Basketball Team, which won third in the country!
Giving back to her community is one of the things she puts first in her journey. Peace Grace Muhizi is a graduate of Agahozo Shalom Youth Village and she is currently schooling in Atlanta, Georgia at Agnes Scott College. This summer, she came back to Rwanda with an aim of interning in a public organization and also giving back to her community, more specifically the youth village that raised her to be who she is today.
June 25, 2017
Souvenir Alphonsine, Learning & Development Coordinator
Souvenir grew up in the Western province of Rwanda where she attended high school. After high school, she went on to study Clinical Psychology at the National University of Rwanda. Since 2010, Souvenir has been working with organizations including Africa in Land Mission, WHY WAIT Projects, and the International Justice Mission (IJM). In 2015, she was admitted to the College of Medicine and Health Sciences' School of Public Health and is due to graduate in August with a Master's Degree in Public Health.
Souvenir joined ASYV in April 2017 this year as Learning and Development Coordinator of the Parental Wholeness department. In her role, she works hand in hand with Family Mothers to improve the lives of the kids in the Village and the alumni that have graduated. She facilitates trainings for the Mamas and other educators in the domain of adolescent psychology, parenting skills, and trauma-focused therapy.
"In my role, I hope to work with the family mothers to heal the wounds of kids who have experienced trauma in a holistic way," she says. "I aim to identify the strengths and weaknesses for intervening in any kid’s case. I hope to help in raising kids that feel they are worthy of being and who will serve Rwandan society as good citizens."
Christian Muhawenimana, Instructional Coach
Christian Muhawenimana is an educator whose more recent experience as an English and Leadership Instructor has made him a first-hand witness to how learner-centered approach and competency-based education has resulted in a total paradigm shift in matters related to education in his native Rwanda. From August 2015 until the time he joined ASYV, Christian served as English and Leadership Instructor at Akilah Institute for Women.
Prior to joining the Akilah Insititute for Women, Christian worked for the famous ULK (Kigali Independent University) as an English Language Lecturer, a position he held after serving as the National Executive Secretary for ARDE/KUBAHO and as the Executive Director of COFORWA, two local non-profit organizations that focus on water supply, sanitation and hygiene education.
Christian has also worked for a year at Water For People, a US-based NGO focusing on ensuring that all the world’s people have access to safe drinking water and sanitation. At Water For People-Rwanda, Christian served as a sociologist for the Rulindo Challenge Program in the Rulindo District of Northern Province in Rwanda. Among his duties was conducting needs assessments for new water supply projects. As he began to see the impact of clean water and sanitation, Christian became increasingly passionate about the cause. He championed implementation of the Kisaro Water Supply Project, which would provide access to clean water for nearly 18,000 people in the district’s Kisaro Sector, and played a vital role in needs assessment, community mobilization and documentation. He also helped in socio-economic identification for new water supply projects in the district’s Burega and Ntarabana sectors.
Prior to his involvement with clean water and sanitation projects, Christian – who received a Bachelor’s Degree of Arts with Education (B.A Ed with a specialization in English and literature) from the Kigali Institute of Education – enjoyed a six-year career in education. He taught English and literature in numerous schools in the Kigali area, including the FAWE Girls’ School, Kacyiru Islamic School, Glory Secondary School, and AIPR Nyandungu. Christian served as headmaster of College APEGIRUBUKI, a private secondary school in the Gicumbi District, and taught English in different schools up-country, including Nyamata St. Francois Xavier Secondary School-APEBU, Ecole Secondaire de Gaseke, Ecole Secondaire de Bukure, and Ecole Secondaire de Kageyo. A renowned English language teacher mentor, he worked for the Ministry of Education training teachers in the Nyabihu and Gasabo Districts as part of the English for Teaching/English for Teachers program.
After six years in education, Christian went to work in the Parliament of Rwanda in the Chamber of Senate. He credits his experience in taking minutes for Parliamentary sessions with strengthening his skills in writing, communication and working under tight schedules.
Christian is finalizing a Master's Degree in Educational Management and he hopes that it will equip him with new skills to support his role at ASYV. Before he turns 40, Christian hopes to get a PhD in Adolescent Education. He is very passionate about teacher capacity development, project management, public relations and communication, fundraising and advocacy; and international relations. His burning desire is to become a school principal for a famous school one day.
Joselyne Umwariwase, Senior Nurse
Joselyne Umwariwase is from the Rulindo district in the Northern Province of Rwanda. This is where she began her career as a nurse at Kinihira hospital.
"I like working with children and I especially find it impactful to help those who are suffering and need special attention," explains Joselyne. "I wanted to offer my contribution to accomplish the vision and mission of ASYV."
In her role as Senior Nurse, Joselyne provides clinical and managerial leadership to ASYV's nursing and support staff. In addition, she helps to bridge communication between patients, family mothers and other family educators, and psychosocial workers, and she is responsible for the planning, implementation, evaluation, and follow up care plans of ASYV's 523 teens.
Alumni’s name: NIYONSHIMA Patrick
Alumni’s graduation month/year: January, 2014 – Imbuto grade
What was your life like before ASYV?
Before I came to the ASYV, I lived in a nearby village with my three brothers and my father. My mother had passed away shortly after the Genocide due to Genocide-related traumas. My father decided not to remarry and instead focused on taking care of my brothers and I. Prior to ASYV, I attended Catholic school, where I struggled to maintain good grades and achieve academic success. When I was recruited to the Village, I didn’t have a good understanding as to what ASYV was but I looked forward to the opportunity to improve in school.
This is the first year Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability, and Learning (MEAL) has been fully implemented at ASYV. We’re learning so much about our students and programs, and starting to make some exciting changes!
For the first time, the MEAL team collected baseline data on all new students. Baseline data includes recruitment data, answers to the Intake form completed by students’ guardians on their first day, information from students’ physical and psychosocial evaluations, and their answers to two surveys, DAP (Developmental Asset Profile) and KAP (Knowledge, Attitude, and Practices) administered in their first few weeks at ASYV.