Last Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of the tragic passing of Agahozo-Shalom’s Founder, Anne Heyman. Everyone who was lucky enough to have met her knows what a truly inspiring and passionate woman she was.  The creation of Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village was only made possible through her tireless hard work and dedication to helping others. Reflective of her kindred spirit, the Village decided to commemorate her life through a Village-wide Tikkun Olam volunteer project. 

In 2011, a three-classroom block was built, supported by Tikkun Olam activities of the ASYV by the Urumuli Grade (Class of 2012). The project was never completed due to financial restraints. Agahozo-Shalom believes that by supporting education initiatives, we are contributing to the sustainable development of the entire nation. Last week the students and staff at ASYV donated one million three hundred and seven Rwandan Francs (roughly $1900 US Dollars) of their own money to go towards finishing the repairs at Rubona Primary School. 

It is the general Rwandan belief that to commemorate someone, you cry and feel sad - doing nothing but mourn.  But all of Anne’s life, she spent helping people. We decided that the best way to remember her was to do the same.” –Program Coordinator, Jean-Claude Parisien

Bright and early on Saturday morning, the entire Village walked to Rubona and began the first day of restorations. This year–long project includes repairs such as cleaning up the landscape, preparing concrete, and painting the walls of the classrooms. The primary school currently lacks an effective drainage system, leading to leaks and floods whenever it rains, and by laying down concrete, this problem is easily solved.

Agahozo-Shalom selected this mission because we believe that no matter who you are or where you come from, you have the power and social responsibility to help the world in someway. Our students have also found that this action is a long-term investment because as we help them, they then turn around and help others.  These philosophies have become embedded in the Village through Anne Heyman’s humble advice of “Don’t thank me, pay it forward.”  

Everyday our students continue what Anne Heyman started – paying it forward.  

A video highlighting the day's activities can be viewed here

Story submitted by Shelby Sullivan, 2015 Village Fellow; Video produced by Bruce Nshimiyimana, ASYV Class of 2014, Videography/Photo Intern