March 16, 2012
By: Anne Heyman, Founder
The three biggest worries of the kids who are in their final year at Agahozo-Shalom are: 1) how are they going to keep in touch with each other; 2) how can we make sure that the kids who follow them at Agahozo-Shalom know its history and its stories; 3) that we do not spend enough time with them teaching them about our philosophy, methodology and core values. Wow.
I went into a meeting of the Senior 6 class after having been bombarded with the constant refrain…. “but what are the kids going to do when they leave the Village”. I expected to be hit with all kinds of questions about the national examinations, as well as the newly introduced professional skills programs which seem to be getting off the ground nicely. One day soon you will be able to have tea and cake (well, sort of cakes) at the visitors center which will be managed and run by our hospitality program. If you are interested in funding a business in Rwanda, our young entrepreneurs have about 57 ideas for you! Those in our modern agriculture program are readying their plots for the planting season. And the ITC kids? They are learning eagerly as they wait for a delivery of OLPC laptops so they can become trainers and troubleshooters on those amazing little machines. I took a walk around the Village yesterday, which was a Sunday, and learned the following: the radio being built by the kids had just been tested successfully (they plan to broadcast to the whole village ultimately); there are kids working on producing extraordinarily beautiful songs, written by them, in both Kinyarwanda and English, in our recording studio; the computer labs, as usual, are standing room only and, because it is near exam time everywhere there is a quiet nook or cranny you see kids studying. The image that most stays with me is that of a kid sitting in the shade of a sapling tree at the top of the amphitheater, reading a book. No, I am not worried about the graduates of Agahozo-Shalom.
Later that evening I met with the Enrichment Year kids, those who have now been with us at Agahozo-Shalom for 2 ½ months. Let me reassure you, big brothers and big sisters, you are doing an incredible job as their role models. My Family Time with the new grade started with them singing to me (original songs); reading poetry that they had written; watching a sketch about the “intake” process for Agahozo-Shalom and how it affected them; presenting me with an incredible painting done by one of their budding artists….they really blew me away. And while many of them are struggling with English, anytime anyone addressed me…they did it in English! They asked some amazing questions, and shared some truly meaningful comments about what Agahozo-Shalom means to them. I cannot believe how far they have come in such a short time. Senior 6 should move forward happily knowing that they have created a deep and firm legacy and that they will be leaving their Village in good hands.