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JWW in Congo:  A Stark Contrast

URL: http://www.jewishjournal.com/bloggish/item/jww_in_congo_a_stark_contrast_20091105

Yesterday we drove east from Kigali to visit the Agahozo Shalom Youth Village, an extraordinary program established by Jewish philanthropist Ann Heyman as a response to helping Rwanda move forward following the horrifying genocide of the early 1990's. While visiting the Genocide Memorial in Kigali earlier in the day, we stood in a room filled with snapshots of hundreds of men, women and children who were murdered. But we cannot forget that thousands of youngsters survived, many without any family or with families that lost mothers or fathers. Agahozo is an effort to work with these survivors now, in their later teenage years, by bringing them to the Shalom Youth Village to live, to study and to grow as future young leaders whose potential will be essential as Rwanda struggles to recover from its tragic history. We visited as the program was completing its first year. A class of 125 teens, both young men and women selected for the vulnerability of their situation and potential, had completed the inaugural year and with the exception of two, were away on a school holiday. The two still in residence had no surviving relatives to visit.

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