Philanthropist dies after jumping accident in Florida

The woman who died after falling from a horse on Friday in Wellington, Florida, has been named as philanthropist Anne Heyman, who founded a youth village in Africa for victims of the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Heyman, 52, a former New York City assistant district attorney, fell during a master’s jumping competition at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center around 10.30am.

Anne Heyman in Rwanda. Photo by Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village Facebook page
Anne Heyman in Rwanda. Photo: Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village/ Facebook

She was flown to the Delray Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead at 1.30pm.

Heyman and her husband, Seth Merrin, had raised $US12 million to help build a village outside Kigali, in eastern Rwanda.

Called Agahozo Shalom Youth Village, it houses hundreds of students who live and study in the community for three years while attending high school.

Heyman had viewed Israel’s kibbutzes that took in Holocaust orphans as a model for coping with the hundreds of thousands of children orphaned in Rwanda.

The youth village said in a statement on its website: “Each of us grieves not only for the passing of a tremendous woman and a true visionary, but also for the loss suffered by her family.”

Rwanda’s Youth Minister, Jean P Nsengimana, tweeted on Saturday: “Your legacy will live on forever. Our thoughts are with your family and hundreds of youth in Agahozo Shalom Youth Village who just lost a mother.”

Rwanda’s Foreign Minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, tweeted: “Deeply saddened by sudden passing of Anne Heyman. I know she lives on in many vibrant Rwandan girls she worked hard for.”

South Africa-born Heyman was a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania in 1982 and George Washington University Law School in 1986.

Her legal career took her to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in New York City.

Heyman and her husband decided to build the youth village in 2005 after hearing a Rwandan speak about the genocide that cost millions of lives.

Heyman and her husband were key forces in Dorot, a Jewish charity, and have served on boards of the Abraham Joshua Heschel School in New York, Young Judaea, Tufts University Hillel and the Jewish Community Centers of America.

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