October 16. 2014
On September 28th, the Village welcomed the guardians of our students for a day at the ASYV. The Village was filled with excitement as the first of the guardians arrived. They came from all five provinces of Rwanda, some traveling for over eight hours, some for their first visit, and some for their third or fourth. While many of the guardians understand the objective of the Village, it is imperative that our children’s families feel that the Village is providing adequate care and support to their loved ones.
The day began with a comprehensive information session. Each department introduced itself to the families and explained, in detail, how their role contributes to the overall operation of the Village. Many of the ASYV Family Mamas, dressed in their finest mushananas (traditional Rwandan dress), greeted those whom they have become close with over the years, as some guardians visit their "children" in the Village on a regular basis. Younger siblings who have not yet been afforded the opportunity to study at the ASYV, anxiously waited to reunite with their older brothers and sisters who are now in the Village. The youngsters sat, anxiously twitching in the dining hall. After everyone gathered, there was an ASYV student talent show. Singers, dancers, musicians, and short films were performed for the distinguished guests and were met with thunderous applause.
After the talent show, the moment finally arrived and the guardians were lead down to the family homes where students waited to greet them with open arms. As kids saw familiar faces walking towards them, the restless silence that had been draped over the Village all morning erupted with shouts of excitement. Lunch was served in the family homes so that ASYV families and guardians could sit together as one large extended family. For first year students and guardians, this time was used for introductions and pleasantries. While in 3rd-year and 4th-year families, guardians that have developed a rapport with one another, came together as old friends.
Though time was short, the hours spent together were enjoyed to the fullest. With the end of the year approaching, some students are anxious for what the vacation months have in store for them. Many of our students will return to homes that represent the suffering that plagued their childhoods. Despite this truth, Guardian Visitation Day was not tainted by the possible hardship that awaits each of our kids, but instead overflowed with an atmosphere of hope and unbending love.
Submitted by Sasha Friedman, 2014 Village Fellow