I first learned of the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village two months ago at Tel Aviv University’s Workshop on Faith and International Development. The focus of the various session was to discuss ways to encourage the current generation of Jews to fulfill their personal responsibility to humanity, within the spirit of our Jewish tradition.
One of the most moving speakers was Anne Heyman, Esq, President of the Heyman-Merrin Family Foundation. In a joint project with the JDC they are spearheading the creation of a youth village for genocide orphans in Rwanda. The concept is based on Israeli Youth Aliya Villages established in the 1950’s, and more recently the home of many Ethiopian immigrants, some of whom will now return to their home continent to serve on the local Agahozo-Shalom team.
Today we hear that the ever popular Israeli-American actress Natalie Portman, is filming a special clip about the new village, to be screened shortly on the Oprah Winfrey show.
Writing in Haaretz, Anshel Pfeffer tells us: “As part of the effort to keep the Rwanda project under wraps until its launch, pictures of Portman in Africa have been declared off-limits until her film is screened on Oprah.
Aside from being a public relations boon, the project illustrates a new trend in Jewish life: engaging in tikkun olam [repairing the world] via projects in developing countries.”
You can read what the Clinton Global Initiative has to say about the project here.
- Planned to house 500 orphans, graduating 120 people from high school each year
- Situated on a 143 acre site overlooking Lake Mugesera in Rwanda’s Eastern Province
- Groundbreaking was held August 17, 2007
- First residents are set to move in this Fall
- The High school is set to open during January 2009