LAST week ended on a sad note as news of the death of Anne Heyman, the founder of Agahozo Shalom Youth Village filtered in.
It was a terrible blow to Rwanda and in particular to many orphans of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, who fondly related to her as their ‘mother’.
When Heyman learnt of the plight of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide orphans, she connected it to a similar challenge that Israel faced following the infamous Holocaust against the Jews after the Second World War.
Motivated by Israeli youth villages that took in Holocaust orphans, Heyman and husband Seth Merrin, set out to build a place where Rwandan genocide orphans could live, study and help rebuild their country.
The couple raised $12 m (about Rwf 8bn) through personal donations and contributions from friends, foundations and corporate sponsors
Thanks to the couple’s commitment, Agahozo Village was born in 2006, fusing formal and informal education. The village boasts of all amenities and facilities a school needs and has given hope to former vulnerable and destitute children.
It passes out about 125 graduates annually, picked from across the country.
Heyman’s work inspired many students to strive for greater grades even when they later joined institutions of higher learning.
Graduates of the school testify that though they joined as orphans, by the time they came out, they felt part of a loving family.
Her death should not be in vain. Let us keep her legacy by upholding and building on what she leaves behind.
May her soul rest in eternal peace.