Ornella Rwanziza

October 27, 2016

Family while studying at ASYV: Eleanor Roosevelt

My name is Ornella. I am a senior 6 student at ASYV.

Describing my life before ASYV wouldn't be so easy but I had no dreams really, no ambitions. I never really knew what my tomorrow would be like.

I grew up with only my mother at home alone and I didn't have any siblings around me. But as I grew up my mother decided to move with my aunt and we were now living with 15 people in the same house It wasn't really easy for us. I was a very quiet child - always very shy. I had too much in my heart and my mind, like too much pain.

When I got here at ASYV the first thing that they told me was that dreams are necessary in life. All you have to do for you to make things that you dreamt about happen, is go for it. Do it. Stop thinking and just do it. And that's what I decided to do. I decided to take all the opportunities that I was given by ASYV and decided to do something about them.

I always want to see the Ornella I'm seeing today better than the Ornella of yesterday. Everytime I think of this, I wake up and do something. That has had a transformational impact on me because right now I believe that nothing is impossible. As long as I dream it, then I can make it happen. That's what is always in my heart. No matter how impossible it seems to others, it always seems possible to me, and that's thanks to ASYV.

I was four times the National Debate champion. I started "Girl Up" group, which is a girls only club that empowers other girls. We mainly teach our girls how to be independent and self-reliant.

ASYV offered a family. They offered me a community where I had people around me and they were all motivating me to tell me you can do it. Go for it. I never had that in my life. I never had that person who tells me you know what, you can climb that mountain.

ASYV is a home for broken hearts to heal. ASYV is a play game for us to explore and build new things and watch yourself making something big that you never dreamed you could make. ASYV is a mother to us because it makes you grow, it nurtures you and gives you everything that any parent would give to their child. This is where I see myself. This is where I feel myself. It's so hard to put into words, but ASYV is everything to us.

Read Ornella’s valedictorian speech from our Ishema graduation here