For the past four years Agahozo Shalom has seen three cohorts of international volunteers, or as the kids call us "cousins" come and go. They become a part of the Village; contributing their personal areas of expertise and varying cultural perspectives, but when their year is over it is often only memories and the work they have done that promises to remain. However, this year, all of that has changed. Within the past six months ASYV has seen four past volunteers return and reunite with their families. Three, Mara Berde (2010 cohort), Trevor Green (2011 cohort) and Lily Brent (2010 cohort) have all returned in a professional capacity, and the fourth, Mike Brand (former IT volunteer, 2010) came back for the simple purpose of seeing his family again.
Mike's visit was a total surprise for his family (Leonardo DaVinci family, Senior 5). Mike only let a few staff members know that he was returning in order to ensure that his family would not have a clue of his impending arrival. When he finally arrived and stood in front of his family, their shock was clear. It took a moment for it to register that they were not looking at an apparition, but that in fact their cousin had returned to Rwanda to see them again. They were thrilled beyond words.
Mike remained in the village for two weeks, making his time and IT talents available to all that needed them. In his free time he shared words of advice and stories from his year in the Village with the current volunteer cohort.
Having Mike, Mara, Trevor and Lily return to the Village shows the students of ASYV that the long-term volunteers truly do care about them. It sends the message that the family bonds we create transcend a year in the Village. It is an indelible bond that remains even when we return to our respective countries, and is powerful enough to make us travel thousands of miles around the world to return to the Village.