A staggering 1.2 million children—nearly 15% of the Rwandan population—were orphaned as a result of the Rwanda genocide and left with little hope for the future. On August 17, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) will dedicate the future site of the Agahozo Shalom Youth Village (ASYV) in Rwanda to help provide not only a home, but opportunity and hope for these future leaders.
“Since 1914, the JDC has been working to help repair corners of this world. Genocide knows no religious or ethnic boundaries and the ASYV project affords us the opportunity to help orphans of genocide see a brighter future,” says Dr. William Recant, Assistant Executive Vice President at the JDC. ASYV is a special project of the JDC’s non-sectarian efforts, formalized in 1986 as the JDC’s International Development Program (JDC–IDP).
Modeled after the Youth Aliyah Village of Yemin Orde, an initiative established in 1953 to accommodate Holocaust orphans and immigrant children in Israel, ASYV employs the Jewish philosophies of Tikkun Halev and Tikkun Olam—healing the heart and mending the world. The Village will incorporate a protected residential environment and a high school for 500 Rwandan orphans and provide a protective environment including innovative educational programs, sports, a health clinic and psychological services. A team of Ethiopian-Israelis, many of whom are graduates of Yemin Orde, will serve as mentors for the educators and role models for ASYV students.
Initiated in April 2006, the ASYV (www.Agahozo-Shalom.org) project has moved quickly to construction thanks in part to the generous financial support of its primary corporate partner, Liquidnet Holdings, Inc. The program was also recognized the Clinton Global Initiative in 2006. The Village is expected to become operational in 2009.
“ASYV will do more than give children a future. It will also provide Rwanda with a group of individuals committed to making a difference in their communities,” says South African-born Anne Heyman, who founded the initiative in conjunction with the JDC and who received the Jewish Funders Network Sidney Shapiro Award for the program’s creative, strategic, collaborative, innovative response to real and pressing societal needs in March of this year.
A special delegation representing Liquidnet, JDC, Yemin Orde and members of the ASYV advisory board will attend the Groundbreaking ceremony on August 17th at the future site of the Village in Rwamanagana, Rwanda. Both the Israeli and American ambassadors along with the Governor of the Eastern District, the Hon. Theoneste Mutsindashyaka and other government Ministers are expected to attend.