December 31, 2014
No one can dispute the fact that Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village is a beautiful place, overlooking rolling green hills and a massive lake. However it is not the scenery that really makes ASYV beautiful, but the students that fill the Village with youthful liveliness, ambition, and insurmountable hope. This is why all of the staff was overjoyed last Sunday, December 28th 2014, when we were able to welcome the Class of 2018 to their new home.
128 travel-weary teenagers and their guardians were greeted by the sounds of Rhythm of Life, an album created by prior ASYV students, as they settled into their seats at the Edmond J. Safra Community Center. Jean-Claude Nkulikiyimfura, Village Director, and Issa Sikubwabo, Director of Informal Education spoke of how special and important this moment was for both of them. ASYV alumni and recent graduates helped with the celebration, showing encouragement at a challenging and rewarding moment that they themselves had been through just four years ago. Samosas (pastry filled with meat and potatoes), sweet bread, and juice were passed around before everyone migrated to the basketball courts to hear the celebratory announcement of family arrangements. Individually, as their name was called, each child joined his/her Agahozo-Shalom family unit, complete with a Mama, a Big Brother/Sister, a Cousin (year-long Fellow), and 15 fellow brothers/sisters. Each child will live with their Agahozo-Shalom Mama and brothers/sisters in a family home on the grounds of ASYV for all four years. For some of the kids, this was a day of firsts – someone they can call Mama, a supportive family unit, their very own bed, a flushing toilet, shower, shelter, and 3 warm, nutritious meals.
Together, as a Family, they were shown around the Village and discussed the meaning and expectations around the 7 Core Values that are unique to Agahozo-Shalom:
- Interest of Child - base every decision on how it impacts the child
- Role Model - live and lead by example in a positive way
- Commitment - embrace the mission and go the extra mile
- Integrity - always be honest with yourself and others and act accordingly
- Support - help and encourage one another
- Respect - be considerate and mindful of others and the environment
- Learning Community - seek and maximize opportunity for growth and development
Grade Coordinator Mable Muberuka discussed the incoming class by saying, “This grade is unique. The kids are more active and eager to know about the village. You can see them becoming more open every day. Their faces become less cloudy and their eyes light up.”
While each child has his or her own story, at Agahozo-Shalom, we are all one family. As such, we want to extend a warm welcome (Murakaza neza) to the 2018 class!
Submitted by Shelby Sullivan, 2015 Village Fellow