Agahozo Shalom Youth Village held its annual Stand Up & Be Counted event May 4 in New York City, and awarded USC Shoah Foundation Executive Director Stephen D. Smith and Aegist Trust founder James M. Smith its Anne Heyman Spirit Award for their service and generosity.
Agahozo Shalom Youth Village (ASYV) was founded by humanitarian Anne Heyman in response to the overwhelming orphan population after the Rwandan Tutsi Genocide. It is a residential community in rural Rwanda for children orphaned during and after the genocide that includes formal and informal education programs, and health and wellness services to care for students’ physical and psychological well-being. It encourages students to perform acts of kindness in their community according to the Hebrew principle of tikkun olam, or “repairing the world.”
ASYV has incorporated IWitness, USC Shoah Foundation’s educational website, into its curriculum. ASYV teacher Gamariel Mbonimana attended IWitness educator workshops at Kigali Genocide Memorial and now takes his classes to the school computer lab to complete IWitness activities about the Rwandan Tutsi Genocide and the Holocaust.
Stand Up & Be Counted included a dinner reception and live auction, and was attended by donors, supporters and ASYV alumni. Stephen Smith was honored for his work with USC Shoah Foundation and James Smith received his award for his work as a founder of Aegis Trust, which is also a USC Shoah Foundation partner in Rwanda.