Little over a week ago, the newest members of our ever-expanding family eagerly passed through the blue-painted Village gates ready to begin their transformational journeys here at ASYV. For some, the opening week has been one that has incorporated many firsts. The first time to enjoy three nutritious meals a day. The first time to call someone "mama". The first time to truly call a place home.

Orientation week was kicked-off with an opening ceremony to welcome the 144 boys and girls together with their guardians - many of whom traveled great distances in order to reach the Village. The event included speeches and performances by ASYV directors, current students, and the Executive Secretary of the Rubona sector. The kids were then separated into families and given tours of the Village before settling in for the first night in their new homes.

On the first full day, kids and staff members woke up early and made their way to the sports fields to take part in team-building games organized by the informal education department. Among the activities were three-legged races, trust fall, and problem-solving games. The event also included a football match between the new kids and ASYV staff members. Despite a valiant effort from the educators, they were humbled by the talented group of teens who trounced them 3-0. The occasion produced plenty of laughter and high spirits were shared by all who were involved.

Perhaps the stand-out event of the week came in the form a New Year party which took place on the dining hall balcony overlooking the beautiful rolling hills. The kids were encouraged to show-off their talents in a variety of performances including songs, comedies, modelling and traditional dance. As 2015 passed into 2016, all who attended joined together to share an exquisitely decorated cake baked by our wonderful kitchen staff. The celebration served as an excellent ice-breaker which enabled the kids to become more familiar with the ASYV sense of community.

Other highlights of the week included inter-family sports competitions and the first "mucaka-mucaka" of the year. Kids and staff members also joined together to enjoy a BBQ picnic whilst overlooking Lake Mugesera.

If orientation week has taught us anything, it is that we have an extremely talented group of students. The events and activities that have taken place over the past few days have helped encourage the kids to express themselves, grow in confidence, and feel more at home in the ASYV. Positive energy is currently flowing through every corner of the Village and the atmosphere is electric!

Submitted by Leigh Woods, Village Fellow 2016