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Teach a man to farm

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It’s always nice when stalwart Jewish organizations reach out to the broader world and help out the broader human community. So … I enjoyed getting a press release from the Jewish National Fund announcing that it plans to pitch in at the Agahozo Shalom Youth Village.

The village in Rwanda was founded last year by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee to give a home to orphans of the 1994 genocide in the country in which between 500,000 and 1 million people were killed during a civil war between the Hutu and Tutsi tribes.

Agahozo, modeled after the Yemin Orde youth village in Israel, which was a haven for orphans of the Holocaust, and later for other immigrants to Israel, is designed to give those who no longer have families a stable place to live and get an education that they can use to live productive lives. The Rwandan village, which is set to open in the fall, will be staffed in part by Ethiopian Israelis who grew up at Yemin Orde.

The JNF will give agricultural training at Agahozo and will establish agricultural plots, greenhouses, and honey-producing beehives on land adjacent to the village to give the residents the farming expertise to support themselves when they return to their native villages.

Here’s the release:

JNF-KKL to Provide Agricultural Training
at Youth Village for Survivors of Rwandan Genocide

July 15, 2008 – New York, NY – To aid young survivors of the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, Jewish National Fund-Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (JNF-KKL) will provide agricultural training at the Agahozo Shalom Youth Village (ASYV) – a project of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee to help hundreds of children orphaned as a result of the genocide.

Modeled after the Israeli Youth Village of Yemin Orde, which was established in 1953 to accommodate Holocaust orphans and immigrant children, ASYV will offer a protected residential environment as well as innovative educational programs, recreational facilities, a health clinic, and psychological services. Situated on 143 acres in Rwanda’s Eastern Province, it will eventually be home to 500 orphans, graduating 120 people from high school each year.

JNF-KKL will establish agricultural plots, greenhouses, and honey-producing beehives on land adjacent to the village and will use this farm to train hundreds of young survivors in agricultural work, giving them the farming expertise to support themselves when they return to their native villages.

“By establishing plant nurseries and training the youngsters at the village, we are giving them tools to cope and helping them to support themselves with dignity in the future,” said JNF-KKL World Chairman Efi Stenzler.

During the course of just 100 days in 1994, over 800,000 people were killed in the Rwandan Genocide, which left even more people displaced, a country in ruins, and nearly 1.2 million children orphaned.

In addition to providing the basic human needs of food, shelter, and protection for traumatized youth still struggling with the aftereffects of genocide, the ASYV aims to prepare these youth to take on leadership roles in their society and give them the chance for a productive future.

An initial delegation of JNF-KKL staff is currently touring Rwanda to examine soil and environmental conditions and determine which species will be suitable for cultivation at the farm. They also plan to explore genetic preservation of the exotic species of fruits native to Rwanda; cultivation of stands of trees for use as cooking and heating fuel to reduce felling in Rwandan forests; and the introduction of beehives to produce honey for both local and commercial use.

“As a non-governmental organization, JNF-KKL places emphasis on pioneering breakthroughs in the management of open areas and woodland, in combating desertification, and in land and water conservation,” said Stenzler. “This delegation is just one example among many of the exportation of expertise and know-how to other countries and organizations throughout the world, including the US Forest Service and the International Arid Lands Consortium.

“Many delegations of JNF-KKL experts in forestry, combating desertification and erosion prevention have visited countries such as Nigeria, Paraguay, Chile, Indonesia and Mexico, while numerous other delegations come to Israel to learn and observe innovative developments and methods firsthand.”

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