On June 11th, 2014 Agahozo-Shalom celebrated African Child’s Day, an event that recognizes the hope and strength of children across the African continent. ASYV appreciated the occasion through assorted performances and surprises for the kids. The students took it upon themselves to showcase their accomplishments in front of their peers; music groups, dance troops, and poets graced the stage boasting inspirational messages for their fellow brothers and sisters.

ASYV welcomed members of the Board of Commissioners from Rwanda’s National Commission for Children (NCC) as our special guests. This organization is the first of its kind in Rwanda and is dedicated to improving the lives of children through education and advocacy. After the performances, the Chair of the Board, Mr. Ngabonziza Damien, shared a few words with the student body. He encouraged the students to reach for the impossible. He reiterated the importance of education as a tool of economic and social development, and fundamental in promoting the rights of children in Rwanda and across Africa. The message hit home, as no child understands the opportunity of education better than ASYV’s student body, most of whom were once considered the most vulnerable in the country. “We want to improve the world outside because we know how it feels to almost have nothing,” said Senior 5 (11th grade) student Maxime Iryumugaba when asked for his reaction to the commissioner’s speech.  

The performance was followed by a special lunch, which included cold sodas and fresh meat, indulgences on the Rwandan lunch menu. However, the most joy came from the students when they saw the ASYV staff wearing paper hats and bow ties, performing lunch service duty for the day.  As a special treat to the students, the ASYV staff took on the task of lunch service and clean-up duty. The event provided a unique occasion for the kids to pat themselves on the back and recognize how far they’ve come, while encouraging them to push themselves toward their next achievements.

In honor of the celebration, some of the ASYV students decided to “pay it forward” and spent the week honoring the children in the surrounding community of Rwamagana. They visited the local primary schools to deliver necessary supplies such as notebooks, pens, and chalk. Senior 5 (11th grade) student Maxime Iryumugaba and Senior 6 (12th grade) student Florentine Mukangoga led the initiative, which they have poignantly entitled “Hope For the Future.” Please watch the video provided below to hear more about their inspiring project!

Blog Submitted by Sasha Friedman, 2014 Village Fellow