JDC to open Rwandan youth village


A youth village to serve 500 impoverished Rwandan orphans will be dedicated this week by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

The village is the brainchild of Anne Heyman, a South African-born New York lawyer who was moved to help after learning that 15 percent of Rwandan children are orphans due to genocide.

The JDC will dedicate the future site of the Agahozo Shalom Youth Village on Friday.

“[Jews] have a collective experience with the Rwandans, having come through genocide,” said Will Recant, the JDC’s assistant executive vice president.. “We’re very much invested in the long-term, sustainable commitment to make this happen.”

The village will provide Rwandan orphans, many them with HIV/AIDS, with a “safe, structured environment with a rich community life where children are exposed to all elements of parental and familial normalcy, thereby providing wholeness in the wake of destruction,” the JDC said in its overview of the village.

Agahozo, Kinyarwandan for “the place where tears are dried,” is modeled after the Youth Aliyah Village of Yemin Orde that housed Holocaust orphans in 1953.

Recant said numerous high-ranking political and business leaders are supporting the village, which is slated to open in 2009.

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