Sixteen years after the devastating genocide in Rwanda, the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village (ASYV), a special project of JDC, is creating a supportive educational community for Rwandan youth.
Inaugurated in June 2009 and based on an Israeli model, the Village is currently home to 250 teenagers, mainly orphans of the genocide. In addition to attending the state-of-the-art high school, these youth engage in sustainable agriculture, benefit from on-site computer and arts centers, and have the opportunity to pursue vocational training in agro-forestry and information technology.
“Those children are our children,” says ASYV Founder Anne Heyman explaining her dedication to building this Youth Village. “I once received an email from the son of a Holocaust survivor telling me that he remembers his mother sharing that the hardest part for her was not being in the concentration camp, but rather the three years she spent in a Displaced Persons Camp after the war. She felt as if the world had forgotten about them—had just moved on without them—and he imagined that this is how many of the children of Rwanda feel today. There is no life without hope. Agahozo-Shalom is a beacon of hope, not only for the children fortunate enough to call it home, but for all of those who have already been touched and will continue to be touched by the amazing things that are happening there.”
The philosophy of the Village combines tikkun halev, repair of the heart, and initiatives for tikkun olam, repair of the world, to help the ASYV youth grow into healthy adults who are not only able to care for themselves and their families, but who are also committed to making their community, their country, and the world a better place.
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