January 14, 2013
raduation at Agahozo-Shalom
Thursday, 11 January 2013
The mood in the Village leading up to graduation was a combination of frantic preparation, intense excitement and general curiosity from the many current students who had never attended this kind of celebration before.
Graduation day ceremonies began early with an 8am unveiling of a beautiful plaque and the dedication of a road in the Village honoring the late Sifa Nsengimana, an instrumental figure in the establishment and founding of Agahozo-Shalom. The road that runs through the center of the Village was renamed Sifa Way in her honor. The road itself serves as the main thoroughfare through the Village and symbolically represents the key role Sifa played in shaping ASYV, building its core values and identity, and fulfilling the dream of changing the lives of the hundreds of kids that now live here.
The graduates looked incredible, proceeding in their green robes to the ceremony tent that was jam-packed with fellow students, guardians, friends and both national and international honored guests and supporters of the Village.
The graduating student speaker said, “We will strive to be the best wherever we go ... we came from darkness but we now have the light.” He spoke of his dreams for his classmates and all the graduates of Agahozo-Shalom. “If you hear of a best singer, best economist or why not President, think of one of us, here, the graduates of Agahozo-Shalom... They call us orphans but we are no longer orphans, we have a family… We are thinkers; we see far and we will go far.”
Founder Anne Heyman empowered the graduating class to, “Go forth and make a difference for people around you, always stand up for what is right.” She reminded the graduating class that, “Each and everyone of you is special...” and emphasized that they ought not “Wait for change, be the change you want to see in world… Your future is what you will make it. You have been given the tools to be lifelong learners… this education is yours to keep.”
His Excellency President Kagame, distinguished guest, then addressed the graduates. In his message he directed his attention to the students, declaring that Rwanda is, “Counting on you to contribute to transforming this country...” He further emphasized that Rwanda and its leadership, “Will be with you all the way. As first graduates at Agahozo-Shalom, your success will inspire those who come after you. That is part of your responsibility.” He elaborated by saying that the, “Youth are our most valuable asset and you represent what we want for the future of Rwanda.”
The day was a truly inspiring microcosm of what ASYV stands for – education, empowerment, and restoration of life – and the hope and pride that the founders, staff and leadership of Rwanda place upon the Village and the graduating class of 2012.
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For photos from the event, visit our Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/AgahozoShalom. There are also many articles online about this monumental occasion, which have also been linked to our Facebook.