January 19, 2012
Over these past three weeks ASYV has happily hosted a litany of visitors who have traveled from near and far to witness what is transpiring in this village of approximately 700 people. Several guests of note were a party of six, Alice and Arlan (Skip) Fuller, Bill and Joyce Cummings, Jill Bohlin, and Chrisy Regam, all the way from Boston, Massachusetts. Bill and Joyce Cummings have been working with Tufts University to sponsor an annual service trip to ASYV by Tufts students. The Cummings believed that it was time for them to come see for themselves what the Tuft students meant when they said that ASYV was a life-changing place. They also decided to link their trip with Alice and Arlan Fuller's desire to visit the Partners In Health facility here in Rwanda.
During their visit, the Cummings witnessed and were amazed by the amount of discipline, respect and pure joy in each of the students they interacted with during their stay. Interacting with the students during meals, learning about the students' backgrounds and entertaining the myriad of questions lobbed at them by the students, appeared to be the highlight of their stay in the village. However, the Cummings seemed particularly concerned by what appeared to be a potential lack of support provided to ASYV students after they graduate, particularly monetary support for University and living expenses. The Fullers were concerned about what they perceived to be a lack of medical screenings, inoculations and other medical treatments for students in the village. He was very concerned that the village has no records on most students with respect to whether they have received vaccinations against preventable diseases. Mr. Fuller was interested in finding ways to utilize existing programs to inoculate and treat students in the village. Our six guests were also curious about how the Village might be able to increase the amount of sponsorship they get for needed items. They cited how the Gates Foundation has donated 1 mosquito net per bed for every bed in Rwanda, but a request has to be submitted. They wondered if this is something that ASYV knows about and is actively pursuing.
The friendship that Joyce and Bill Cummings, Alice and Arlan Fuller, Jill Bohlin, and Chrissy Regan have forged with the Village is something ASYV holds close and hopes to build upon. A message from Joyce Cummings to our International Coordinator serves to reaffirm the strength of this friendship. Joyce states:
“ Bill and I were both overwhelmed by everything we saw and experienced and we are excited about sharing many stories with family and friends. Our entire time in Rwanda was challenging and powerful. We learned more than we ever imagined in such a short period of time and returned to the US with a feeling of gratitude to everyone who made the trip possible. Bill has been in touch with Anne regarding a grant for the Village.”
It is fair to say that both the Village and our six friends from Boston shared a memorable few days finally meeting face-to-face, and are all eager to see what the future holds for this evolving bond.