ASYV Celebrates Grandmother Anne Heyman

February 22, 2014

We are the seeds.  We will grow to feed the world.

On Saturday, February 8th, one week after Agahozo-Shalom Founder Anne Heyman passed away, the Village held a memorial service in her honor. The variety of those in attendance was a testament to the vast array of people who Anne reached in her efforts to ensure that ASYV would grow and thrive. Among the guests were the Honorable Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Claver Gatete, ASYV’s Executive Director Danielle Burenstein, three members of the ASYV Board of Directors, and District of Rwamagana Mayor Uwimana Nehemie.  The service opened with a Hebrew Prayer accompanied by its English Translation. Throughout the week, ASYV incorporated prayers and traditions from many different faiths. Known as "Grandfather of the Village," Chaim Peri, while not able to physically attend the service, spoke to the assembly via Skype. He reminded everyone that though our faiths may vary, it was important that everyone believe in the message Anne so intrepidly pursued. “She was a daughter of a people committed to Tikkun Halev (repairing the heart) and built a Village in the model of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world),” said Perry. 

Village Director and Anne’s personal friend, Jean Claude Nkulikiyimfura, gave the opening remarks. During his speech Nkulikiyimfura, encouraged the crowd to stand and hug the person to their right and left. He explained, “We should get in the habit of reaching out to those we may not know. Anne was a step ahead in this way. She gave love, she inspired love, she was love.”  While there was an estimated one thousand gathered in attendance, the service retained a unique feeling of intimacy. A beautiful sight was witnessed among the rows of students gathered as arms were draped over one another's shoulders and hands were interlocked with one another.  Past graduates, staff members and guests gripped one another’s hands for support. Though undoubtedly the service represented a terrible loss, the mood was celebratory to give honor to a woman whose most favorable quality was hope. Student emcee Brigitte Natalie Kananura touchingly found reassurance in envisioning Anne as her messenger bringing news to those who she had lost before. All female staff dressed in white imushananas (Rwandan traditional dress) to serve as torches and assist Anne in her passage into the light.  

As guests walked from the service, they were given white flowers by student volunteers to be placed under the mango tree, which is where Anne signed the land lease on February 17, 2007 and purchased the 144 acres on which Agahozo-Shalom sits. “It is on us now to take care of one another. To start our own Tikun Olum,” Grandfather Peri urged. 

Anne found the resources to build a Village, but it was her undaunted determination and limitless heart that created the home that is Agahozo-Shalom.