Spotlight: Meet our Alumni

Alumni’s name: Patrick Niyonshima

Alumni’s graduation month/year: January, 2014 – Imbuto grade

What was your life like before ASYV?

Before I came to the ASYV, I lived in a nearby village with my three brothers and my father. My mother had passed away shortly after the Genocide due to Genocide-related traumas. My father decided not to remarry and instead focused on taking care of my brothers and I. Prior to ASYV, I attended Catholic school, where I struggled to maintain good grades and achieve academic success. When I was recruited to the Village, I didn’t have a good understanding as to what ASYV was but I looked forward to the opportunity to improve in school. 

What was your favorite memory from the Village?

Besides Graduation, which was by far one of my greatest accomplishments to date, I distinctly remember my first Village Time performance. A few of us were the first group of students to perform modern dance on the Amphitheatre stage. We danced to “Love in this Club” by Usher. I still remember the audience’s cheers.

How do you still embody the ASYV core values?

Today, I use what I learned at the Village to teach others who weren’t afforded the same opportunities as me. In Kigali, I join discussions and events to grow my network so that I can connect people with ASYV graduates who are looking for jobs.

In addition, I founded TOFE (Tikkun Olam Foundation for Entertaining Rwanda) alongside four other ASYV graduates. The mission is to implement Tikkun Olam (meaning: repairing the world) outside of the Village to create capital in arts and music. We advocate and connect people who are experienced in a variety of skills, including public relations, event management, etc. Eventually, we hope to develop a global platform for our Rwandan artists.

What are you doing now?

I am currently working on a number of different things.

I am in my final year at Kigali Independent University, studying International Relation Studies. My studies are covered by a government fund for Genocide survivors. I will be graduating in December of 2017.

I am also currently an intern at the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), where I am responsible for various aspects of communications. When I complete school, I will hopefully get a full-time job at UNDP.

In my spare time, I recently created the Association of the People, an organization that organizes events in Rwanda. This is the for-profit arm of TOFE.

My dad had an unfortunate accident and is now handicapped so I serve as head of household.

What advice would you give current students?

For current ASYV students, I recommend taking advantage of the opportunities that ASYV provides - learn from them, then implement the experiences and skills you received from the Village in real life. The Village is like an industry, it will help you realize how productive a person can be outside the Village.

What are your plans for the future?

In 2020, I aspire to have completed my Masters degree in International Organization and Diplomacy from Immaculate University in Uganda. In terms of giving back, I hope that one day I can be a donor to the Village. Ideally, I’d like to help create a network of alumni that give small donations via Airtel Mobile to the Village. My goal is to raise 25,000USD.

Building a better world

I hope that new ASYV graduates aim to be responsible citizens, with the ability to become independent professionally and academically. In doing so, they will be able to take care of others who need assistance, like I have done for my family.

Submitted by Lauren Gross, Village Fellow 2017