February 5, 2017
February 1st marks Heroes’ Day in Rwanda. This annual public holiday commemorates the national heroes from Rwanda’s past. Here at ASYV, this day is particularly special because it is a time for us to celebrate and remember our founder, Anne Heyman, who three years ago passed away from a tragic horse riding accident.
In her honor, and the honor of other past heroes, we reflected on what being a hero truly means. Heroes don’t come in one standard packaging – they come in people of different ages, genders, ethnicities, nationalities and economic backgrounds. As a family, we find a hero in the sister who helps us achieve good grades in school, the older student who motivates us to try new things or the brother who watches out for us when we are sick.
After opening our special Village-wide ceremony with a moment of silence for Anne and a prayer, Village Director Vincent, offered some words of wisdom for how we can all be heroes in our own right:
“A hero gives his or her best to another with their greatest capacities”
Shortly thereafter, each grade got up on stage to share a skit about how they envision a hero. Focused on ‘paying it forward’ the students provided emotional, meaningful and inspirational messages, willing us to be better, do more and bring positivity to the world.
We were lucky to have our ASYV alumni travel from around Rwanda to join us on this momentous day. Alumni rep, Egide, one of the first alum from the Village, shared impactful words about what Anne and ASYV taught him. He discussed his fears of an unlived life, knowing that he has a lot to give but unsure if he could live up to his own expectations:
“Fear must NOT control us, we must live a life we are proud of and instead of giving back, pay if forward.”
At the ceremony’s end, JC, our Executive Director, concluded with some deeply personal closing remarks, including the story of his last conversation with Anne and how her mission lives on. He addressed the crowd saying everyone can be a hero – how do you plan to be one?
“There is something we need to learn from a hero’s death – it’s that we need to carry that torch.”
So how do you plan on changing the world? How will you pay forward the good fortune you’ve been granted? Let’s all challenge ourselves to find those answers.
Moto of the day - By doing for others, you heal yourself: a refreshing sentiment to many of us and a very true one as ASYV proves.
Submitted by Lauren Gross, Village Fellow 2017