Approximately 60 kilometres from Kigali , and 10kms off the Kigali-Mutara highway at Ntunga, is a serene youth village that has restored hope and humanity to hundreds of Rwanda's youth who would have given up on life otherwise. This has been achieved through the fostering of two Hebrew beliefs; tikkun halev (repairing the heart) and tikkun olam (repairing the world). Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village (ASYV) is a residential community on 144 acres and is home to youth who were orphaned during and after the genocide in 1994. With the primary objective of protecting and nurturing these young people, the village is teaching the youth to become healthy, self-sufficient and take part in the rebuilding Rwanda . GENESISFounder Anne Heyman — a former district attorney in Manhattan USA and her husband Seth Merrin — founder of electronic stock-trading firm Liquidnet — attended a talk about the Rwandan genocide; Merrin asked what the biggest problem Rwanda faced was. He was the told that there were many orphans with no structured support systems for their well-being. Inspired by Israeli youth villages that took in Holocaust orphans, the couple raised $12 million through personal funds and donations from friends and foundations, and a corporate sponsorship from Liquidnet . Along with help from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the couple built a village outside of Kigali . REALISING THE DREAM Heyman immediately made contact with various organisations and people in Israel , the United States and Rwanda to share her idea and how it could be achieved. In 2006, together with her team, she found a model in Yemin Orde Youth Village in Israel . The JDC and Liquidnet offered housing and logistical support for the project. She broke ground in 2007, and on December 15, 2008 , the first 125 students moved in to make Agahozo Shalom their new home. Today, the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village is an independent non-profit organisation that is home to 500 children. RE-INTEGRATION AND LIFE AT THE VILLAGE Every year, Agahozo takes in orphans and vulnerable children from all over the country, four from every district, at a girl to boy ratio of 60 per cent to 40 per cent. The home is based on a family structure to help the youths heal. The village places them into residential families of 16. The family environment fosters a brother-sister dynamic. Go to the East African to read the full article.
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