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.
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Even after the school opened in 2008, Heyman was a regular and frequent visitor the school, coming four or five times a year on trips lasting several days at a time.

Emmanuel Nkundunkundiye
Emmanuel Nkundunkundiye

Students recalled her inspirational talks, where she would encourage them to help build Rwanda by making the best of their unusual opportunity to get a high-quality education.

The school’s director said Heyman told children to look at the school as a kind of “candy store” where they should grab whatever they could that would help them grow as individuals, and Rwandans.

“We will honor her life,” he said. “We won’t let that message die.”

Nkundunkundiye, the recent graduate, said students especially respected Heyman for spending so much time with the students offering one-on-one guidance and advice about overcoming the everyday challenges of life.

He said the biggest loss to the school — even greater than any possible financial blow — would be her absence to future generations of students.

“We are like the seeds she planted and we want to be the fruit that grows,” he said. “I have her words in my heart, today and for ever.”

Contact Dave Goldiner on Twitter @davidgoldiner


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