Celebrating Milestones and Moving Forward: The Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, Rwanda

 The Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village (ASYV) is a vibrant community and home to 500 vulnerable teenagers from across Rwanda. Agahozo (in Kinyarwanda meaning a place where tears dry)- Shalom (a Hebrew word meaning peace), first opened its doors 15 years ago, in 2008. As the name suggests, the Village was founded to dry tears of orphans of the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi. But as years passed, this generation aged out of the program. Now, the Village has expanded its recruitment criteria to include vulnerabilities in addition to orphanhood, such as severe poverty, refugee status, experiences with abuse, or having elderly or health-challenged guardians. Since opening our doors, we have graduated over 1300 students and continue our work to provide a holistic, high-quality, and values-based education in a healing and loving family environment to young people who can then go on to impact positive change in their communities, Rwanda, and the world.

 At ASYV’s Career Resources Center (CRC) at the Liquidnet Family High School, we prepare students for their lives after graduation through three major pathways; Entrepreneurship, Employment, and Further Education. We estimate that at least 50% of ASYV students would not have graduated secondary school without ASYV. As ASYV works to transform the lives of these vulnerable teenagers, we work very hard and are very proud to send around 60% of each graduating class into further education institutions within 2 years of graduation from ASYV. By joining the HALI Access Network, ASYV hopes to send an increasing number of graduates to prestigious institutions of higher learning in Rwanda, Africa, and around the world.

(Alumni attend the ASYV Career Fair in Kigali, Rwanda)

This past school year in the CRC has been a year that highlights the amazing potential of ASYV students. For the upcoming 2023–2024 Academic Year, recent Agahozo graduates will be starting their university studies across the world. U.S-based institutions they will attend include the University of Rochester, Yale University, Washington & Lee University, Tufts University, University of Wisconsin, Abilene Christian University, and Oklahoma Christian University in North America. Others include University of British Columbia, the Alibaba Business School at the Hangzhou University in China, the University of Camerino in Italy, the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies in Japan, along with several domestic institutions including the African Leadership University. We strongly believe this new partnership with the HALI Access Network will increase our impact.

(Students learn about universities and scholarship opportunities at ASYV’s Education Fair)

One milestone in ASYV’s history that occurred this year is the story of Emmanuel Ahishakiye. Emmanuel will soon begin his studies at the University of Rochester where he hopes to pursue computer science or a related field. What’s so extraordinary about Emmanuel is that he was accepted early decision to the University of Rochester during his Senior 6 (12th grade equivalent) year. He is the first student in ASYV’s history to have been accepted before graduating and completing his national exams, signaling a new possible pathway to success for his younger classmates in years to come. Along with his older peers just starting their studies or continuing their studies in North America, he will help represent the amazing community of 1,365 alumni found in Rwanda and all over the world, as we honor all of them during our 15th anniversary celebrations this October in both New York City and Rwanda!

(Emmanuel and his ASYV Family Mama say goodbye as he leaves ASYV for Rochester, NY)

See Ahishakiye Emmanuel e-portfolio here

Through our involvement with the HALI Access Network, ASYV is excited to further develop our programming to support students and alumni in their university applications, as well as give back to the HALI community through sharing insights and educational philosophies that come from our unique youth village model and holistic approach to education, healing, and transformation. Together, through support and by fostering a learning community, we can help provide life-changing opportunities for disadvantaged yet talented youth from Rwanda—and across the continent—who will in turn help transform and lead their communities into better tomorrows!