Anne Heyman, a Jewish philanthropist who founded a Rwandan youth village for children orphaned in that country’s 1994 genocide, died in a horse-riding accident.
Heyman, 52, died Friday afternoon after falling off a horse during a jumping competition at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Florida, The Palm Beach Post reported.
Heyman’s interest in aiding Rwanda was spurred by a 2005 talk on the genocide that she and her husband, Seth Merrin, attended. Together they raised $12 million to create Rwanda’s Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, according to the Post.
The village opened in December 2008, and 500 Rwandans age 14-21 currently live and study there. The village was inspired by the youth villages in Israel that resettled young Jews orphaned by the Holocaust.
Rwandan government officials expressed sorrow over Heyman’s death.
“RIP #AnneHeyman – your legacy will live on forever, our thoughts are with your family and hundreds of youth in #ASYV who just lost a mother,” Jean Nsengimana, Rwanda’s youth minister, tweeted.
Originally from South Africa, Heyman has been involved in numerous American Jewish philanthropies. She is a former board president of Dorot, a Jewish nonprofit that organizes volunteers to help the elderly and reduce their social isolation.