An Interview with Issa, ASYV's Director of Operations & Procurement


How did you come to work at Agahozo Shalom Youth Village?

While I was a school principal at a school for Genocide survivors, I met an ASYV staff member at a workshop for individuals dealing with trauma. I was very interested in learning more about the philosophy at ASYV.

I was hired to work for the Village as a school teacher teaching General Studies and I served in this role for 3 years. Eventually, I was promoted to the Director of Informal Education, a role I worked in for another 3 years. After 6 years at ASYV I moved to Operations & Procurement and now I’m completing my third year in this position.

What did you think of the Village when you first arrived?

When I arrived here I couldn’t understand exactly how the system worked. It was something new. Everyone in the Village was considered a family member. It was really impressive to see how kids, staff, and administrators are all in a family mode.

Do you feel you have changed as a person since joining the Village staff?

Absolutely. Since I got here, I feel like I am a new person, totally different from who I was before coming here. This place made me a person who can understand what society really needs and what a human really needs. Here everyone plays an important role so you must be a person everyone can count on.

This Village healed me. I have my own wounds, my own background. It is a privilege for me to be with the kids and be strengthened by their stories. I understand now that I am not alone.

What are some of your favorite memories of working in the Village?

One day, there was a group of kids that came to me to try to schedule an appointment. They said “You are our role model and we are trying to copy your work style.” I always remember their words. I thought they were joking, but they were serious.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Every day looks different and I am all over the Village from the farm to the school. I coordinate 7 different units in my department: landscape, security, transport, maintenance, logistics and store, kitchen and farm, and cleaning. I make sure that I connect the dots. Firstly, I have to plan the many goals of the departments for the month, then I divide them into the many different activities of the week. Sometimes I have to organize small meetings in a particular unit to assess their needs. I need to interact with suppliers and service providers, and to negotiate and review contracts.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I really enjoy interacting with my team members. I enjoy supporting them when they come to me with a challenge.

What is most challenging?

It is not easy to plan what I will do in any day. I always need to be ready in case support is needed.

During a tough or busy day, what keeps you inspired and motivated?

I appreciate seeing staff and kids busy and I am inspired to see that everyone is active and owning their activities.

ASYV’s impact cannot be found anywhere else, nor can the transformation it creates.

Jill Radwin