By Anne Heyman, Founder

  June 16th is the International Day of the African Child. Strangely enough, it is my birthday too, and somehow I have never made this connection before. Perhaps because I haven’t been in the Village at this time. Definitely a weird coincidence!

 At Agahozo-Shalom, the day was celebrated with an amazing performance (we could put any school of performing arts anywhere in the world to shame!) which kicked off a week of activities whose theme was “Restoring the Rhythm of Life”. One of the highlights of this week was an “all school” debate with the final contestants being two groups of Senior 5 kids (11th grade). They were assigned the topic “Educating a Woman is Educating a Nation”, with one group being proponents of the statement and others opponents. A panel of note takers and a time keeper was overseen by the Debate Chair, one of the Senior 6 (12th grade) students. Rules were explained, procedures followed and time kept to a degree that would be the envy of any debating competition anywhere. A critique by a panel of educators preceded an announcement of the results and although the Proponents won (truthfully it is a difficult argument for someone who lives at Agahozo-Shalom to argue against) everyone did an truly excellent job.  I was so proud to see how much has been accomplished; it is one thing to speak English, it is another to be able to conduct a reasoned argument. To argue passionately in English while thinking on your feet is truly an accomplishment.

The week-long celebration was closed with an incredible performance by our kids including our traditional dance troupe, the Agahozo-Shalom singers, the “Braves”, which is one of the many bands at Agahozo-Shalom. A beautiful abstract painting was presented to me and explained to all by the artist representing the meaning of Agahozo-Shalom. As usual, we invited some guests to the performance and everyone was so impressed – not just with the talent of the kids but at the constant message that was being conveyed: To restore the rhythm of our own lives we need to take responsibility for ourselves and work hard. Ten percent of our success is opportunity – ninety percent is our hard work. This is what sets the Agahozo-Shalom students apart and what will be key in their success!