June 10, 2010
1 incredible students from Tufts University just returned from the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village after spending 10 days volunteering, exploring, learning, hiking, homework-helping and dancing in Rwanda! The trip began with 2 days in Kigali where the students learned about some of Rwanda’s history at the Kigali Genocide Memorial . They got to see a bit of the hills of Kigali as they toured the city, catching glimpses of the Department of Defense, the Hotel Milles Collines, and even President Kagame’s own motorcade.
From Kigali, the group headed to the Eastern Province to settle into their new homes at Agahozo-Shalom’s guest houses, overlooking the village farm. They were treated to a tour of the sprawling village before diving into their service work. Four months of hard work and networking in the US paid off; the Tufts group was able to fundraise over $5000 to build seating around the village’s sports fields. In two short weeks, this seating will be filled with spectators from across Rwanda, coming to cheer on the National Football Team as they inaugurate the new field and pay thanks to Tufts efforts on behalf of the village.
Working side by side with local construction crews, the Tufts students carried rocks and cement in the hot morning sun to help ensure the project would be completed in time for this occasion. As they worked, the group learned Kinyarwandan phrases and shared laughs with their fellow workers. The Tufts students shared meals with the entire village, mingling with different groups of students as they chatted over family style meals of plaintains, farm fresh greenbeans, white sweet potatoes or sorghum breakfast porridge.
In the afternoons, the Tufts students volunteered in the after school program, learning traditional dance and crafts alongside the Agahozo-Shalom students, and challenging them to friendly games of football, volleyball and basketball.
The group joined in other village activities as well, taking part of the evening Family Time discussions held in each ASYV family.
Beyond the village, the Tufts students explored the nearby town of Rubona and haggled prices for pineapples, cloth and avocado at the market.
Before boarding their flight back to the United States, the Tufts group brainstormed ways to continue their support of the village and ensure that the connections that they had built – both with individual students and with the village as a whole – would endure.
Plans are already underway for Agahozo-Shalom events in the fall at Tufts, including the second annual Race4Rwanda, to be held next November!