Alissa Neil, Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village Supporter


Thanks to Alissa Neil for sharing her experience volunteering and supporting Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village (ASYV).

Why did you decide to get involved with this organization?

I learned about the organization through an acquaintance who then introduced me to the founder, Anne Heyman Merrin (who tragically passed away about five years ago). I've always felt a connection to Africa-- the people, the music, the dance, the colors and was incredibly inspired by her vision for ASYV . Her idea for ASYV came from such a Jewish place and frankly, I loved that it was Jewish people recognizing that their brothers and sisters in Africa needed help.

How would you connect the work this organization is doing to a Jewish text, holiday, value or experience?

ASYV is all about Tikkun Olam. I mean, they even have a class for the Rwandan students where they learn about the concept of Tikkun Olam and work outside the village on various projects that help the community outside of the ASYV village. Additionally, ASYV was created to help lift up people -- children-- who suffered the terrible loss of losing their parents as a result of the Rwandan genocide. The village is modeled after Yemin Orde, a youth village in Israel, as well as Israeli youth villages that were created in Israel following the Holocaust.

Who has inspired you in the work that you are doing for this organization? 

My inspiration at the time and even now, comes from the founder Anne Heyman Merrin whose passion to give to others and enable others was unlike anything I'd ever seen. She lived the value of Tikkun Olam. She rolled up her sleeves and made it happen. The Village is one of the most inspiring things I've witnessed. It's giving people a chance of a full, rich life who have so little and have lost so much.

To learn more about Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village visit

Amy Benarroch