on Voyage! Our students are on their way to New York City to attend the annual fundraising event, Stand Up & Be Counted ( As in years past, the evening promises to be incredible, full of life, talent, meaning, and is a huge, deeply significant support for the Village and all the activities we do here. Five students with a member of our staff, gathered yesterday to travel the great distance between Rwanda and New York, in order to represent all of the students and staff on the ground at this important evening. 

As they gathered around the mango tree in the center of the Village waiting for the minibus that would take them to Kigali, students lingered. Those who were going said excited goodbyes to the continuous onslaught of friends, classmates, mamas, cousins, big brothers and sisters, administrative staff and more who came to wish them a safe journey and offer small nuggets of advice or guidance. Hugs and kisses and wishes of the very best were mixed with a very honest request to represent the Village well. “We are hoping for a positive impact for the Village and even for Rwanda,” one student noted. 

Students were treated as prized ambassadors, armed with a responsibility. Dorcus, this year’s staff representative, a Big Sister in the Village expressed that, “It is a pleasure to represent Agahozo-Shalom. In some ways we represent not only the Village but also all of Rwanda. It is an honor.”

As they gathered their bags to load them onto the minibus, all expressed excitement about going to New York. For these students, it will be their first time on an airplane and for many it is their first time leaving Rwanda. One student, Afra, expressed unbridled excitement saying, “I can’t wait to see street dance.” Another student, Henry, said, “I really don’t know what to expect. I will be surprised about everything.”

At Stand Up & Be Counted, our students will perform music and art that they’ve been working on diligently for months. For them this will be the trip of a lifetime, full of new experiences, exciting adventures, and is indeed an opportunity they take seriously. Our ambassadors will undoubtedly represent the Village well. We wish them a safe journey and an incredible experience.  

Submitted by Shira Liff-Grieff, ASYV long-term volunteer