International Women’s Day at ASYV

March 16, 2012

By: Anne Heyman, Founder

    I always try to “blog” at least once when I am in the Village, and today is certainly a great day to do so. International Women’s Day is celebrated big time in Rwanda, and probably nowhere with more enthusiasm than at Agahozo-Shalom. Our celebration started this afternoon with all 500 kids and some VIP guests as well as all our staff and volunteers and visiting student groups (go Yale) fitting into our enormous dining hall. Our traditional dance troupe did a “non-traditional” traditional dance telling the story of how women should and should not be treated. Speeches, poems, and sketches all extolled the virtues of women, particularly how important it is to see women as equals and to educate them and give them the same opportunities as men. As usual, I was brought to tears by the heartfelt songs directed my way; what Agahozo-Shalom means to these kids is hardly conceivable. And yes, as everyone kept repeating today, its founder is a woman!!! I am going to be very brave and attach a picture of me wearing my traditional Rwandan dress – a mshanana – that was given to me by the Moms in the Village. The crown was given to me and placed on my head as part of a wonderful dance and song by the Mamas of the Village. We were very privileged to have Mr. Damien Ngabonziza with us representing the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion. He is also the Chairman of the National Commission for Children, so it was very appropriate that he was with us on this special day. There is nothing better than hearing a bunch of teenage rappers extolling the virtue of being a woman. Sometimes it just blows me away how truly awesome this Village is.