Today was our first full day at the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village. Our schedule was tighly-packed: communal breakfast, 3-hour village tour, communal lunch, group discussion on global citizenship and allyship, free time to spend with student clubs and activities, communal dinner, family time (1 hour with a designated family), and Tufts group debrief. Despite this structured itinerary, we experienced pockets of special moments with the village youth and our own Tufts group.
Today we had breakfast at the dining hall with some interns at ASYV. Interns have graduated in the past year and are working at the village. I had a very interesting conversation with one of the interns about playing and composing music. We soon boarded the bus and headed out to the NGO Gardens of Health in Kibenga. We learned about the organization, which does amazing work with mothers to address the problem of malnutrition. These women work on the farm and also learn about balanced meals they can bring to their families. The lunch that was offered to us as well as other community members was delicious, especially the guacamole! The next NGO we visited was the Urugo Women’s Opportunity Center. The site was beautiful and aims to empower women through giving them lessons in English, weaving, painting, etc so that they can gain the skills to find independent success. After the drive back to ASYV, I had dinner with my family and some of the girls tried teaching me their language. Throughout the day I had a balance of fun and meaningful conversations with both Tufts and ASYV students, which I am very grateful for!
Today we woke up early and went to the school to help Senior 6 students with cover letters. We split into two groups. Each group attended one section of a CDC (Career Development Center) class led by one of the teachers. We listened to the lesson and then offered feedback on the cover letters students wrote. After school, some of us went to lunch. In the afternoon, we walked to the Rubona market. Some students had clothing made by seamstresses. Some of us enjoyed local Rwandan food and soda. The trip to Rubona was a window into the stark contrast between life within Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village and life outside of it. We returned from the market and attended a meeting with the village’s cousins, a cohort of short-term workers who live with families and spearhead initiatives. The meeting raised concerns on how the presence of cousins, who are predominantly white Americans, affects the children’s perspectives. Shortly after the meeting, we went to Village Time. Village Time was a meaningful gathering of the whole village, and it featured performances by traditional Rwandan dance groups and other talented ASYV kids. One of the other highlights of the village time was the monthly birthday celebrations. Then dinner was served with the birthday cake presented to all the students and staff of the village. This was followed by an optional Boom Party on the balcony of the dining hall. Some of us attended church services during this time. We ended the night with the usual check ins of all the Tufts students and discussed the plan for the next day