FEATURED: Ava Holtzman donates USD 60 000 to improve lives of vulnerable youth

Ava’s father, Marc Holtzman (R) presents a US $ 60,000 dummy cheque to Viateur Uwambajimana.

At just 10 years of age, American teen Ava Holtzman gave a helping hand to improve the lives of vulnerable youth and through her organization Ava’s Jammies, donated USD 60 000 to support vulnerable youth and those with special needs in Rwanda.

Ava has developed a passion for Africa and, more specifically, for helping the orphans she met at such a young age, including the boys and girls from Gisimba Orphanage who warmly received her during her visit to Rwanda in 2009.

Ava, who always loved pajamas, thought it would be a wonderful idea to design and distribute pajamas to children who needed them and that inspired her to create Ava’s Jammies, which  designs pajamas for boys and girls and donates this simple luxury. The first distribution of Ava’s Jammies was in March 2014 at various orphanages in Kigali, including Gisimba Orphanage.

The support will start to benefit 45 students from Ubumwe Vocational Training Centre launched in Bugesera district.

The funds were raised and given to the Holtzman family’s regular partner The Point Foundation, a UK-based organization that strives to improve the lives of orphans, vulnerable children and youth in Africa. It will work closely with Ubumwe Community Centre, a non-profit organization that supports orphans and youth with special needs, to distribute the funds through activities aimed at improving their lives.

While handing over the support on Friday March 15, Ava’s father, Marc Holtzman, said “Today I am proud, on behalf of my daughter, to handover the support and I am really inspired by Ava's idea. I hope this funding is going to be used to support the community to improve skills for employment and career development, and will be specifically focused on young people. We will keep funding more projects that support needy youth in the future. It is something that comes from my heart, inspired by my daughter Ava. Ava’s message is that no child should be left behind and every child should have the same opportunities that she has,” he added.

Ava's father speaks at the event. 

The support will start to benefit 45 students from Ubumwe Vocational Training Centre launched in Bugesera district  in February, to offer free education, specifically to youth with disabilities and those from families ranked in the first and second Ubudehe Categories.  The Centre is part of the ‘Integrated Mwogo Development Program’, a ten-year project being implemented by Ubumwe Community Centre in partnership with The Point Foundation.

Viateur Uwambajimana, the Point Foundation representative, said that the support will help beneficiaries get free education and ensure they can improve their lives to another level.“I am thankful for this generous donation to the Point Foundation. The youth were supposed to pay school fees but, thanks to the support, they will get free education,” he said.The beneficiaries will be supported to access free training courses in tailoring, hairdressing and beauty skills development and, after acquiring vocational training, will be given equipment  as the start-up foundation for their own businesses.