Anne Heyman's Sudden Death Plunges Rwanda School Into Mourning

Heartbroken Orphan Students Pay Tribute to 'Second Mother'

From Celebration to Mourning: Rwandan students sing songs of praise for founder Anne Heyman at a graduation ceremony this month. The school was plunged into mourning by the Jewish philanthropist’s sudden death.
Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village
From Celebration to Mourning: Rwandan students sing songs of praise for founder Anne Heyman at a graduation ceremony this month. The school was plunged into mourning by the Jewish philanthropist’s sudden death.

By Dave Goldiner

Published February 02, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

A trailblazing Rwanda school for genocide orphans was plunged into intense mourning Saturday by the death of its founder Anne Heyman — revered by students as a “second mother.”

Heartbroken students at the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, who lost their parents in the 1994 killing spree, wept openly after learning of the tragic death of the Jewish philanthropist in a Florida horse-riding accident.

Coralie Keza
Coralie Keza

“It’s the worst thing that could happen to us — again,” Emmanuel Nkundunkundiye, 21, a recent graduate told the Forward from the campus outside the Rwanda capital of Kigali. “It’s like being made an orphan all over again.”

“We called her our mother, our angel,” he added. “It’s a loss for us, but also a great loss for the entire nation.”

Coralie Keza, 20, said Heyman was a special inspiration to the girls at the school.

“She brought a light to us,” said Keza, who has one more year at the school. “I thank God I had the opportunity to talk to her, and her spirit will always be with us.”

A memorial bonfire was lit at the school Saturday night and a church service was planned for Sunday morning in the predominantly Christian country.

Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village

Six candles — one for each of four high school classes and two alumni classes — burned next to a framed portrait of Heyman beneath a tree where Heyman negotiated the purchase of the land for the school from 96 small landowners.

“It symbolizes where it all began,” said Jean-Claude Nkulikiyimfura, the school’s director.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.