The Year in Review

The year 2010 has been a pivotal year for Survivors Fund (SURF). We started the year facing a number of challenges, particularly financial pressures resulting from the difficult economic climate, but we finished strongly having developed a number of new and innovative projects in Rwanda. Our team has had to be creative, developing high-impact approaches to meet the many needs of survivors in Rwanda with only limited resources.

Of particular note is the Education into Employment programme, which in only one year has become a flagship project for SURF. What is most remarkable is the programme has been delivered on such a small budget.

As positive, is the development of our new HIV+ Survivors Integration Project funded by a grant from Comic Relief, which is establishing sustainable income-generating activities for members of AVEGA (Association of Widows of the Genocide) and Solace Ministries (Christian Survivor’s Association).

There are individual success stories as well: survivors who have overcome the greatest obstacles to rebuild their lives. Their strength is astounding. They have helped not only themselves to a better life, but those less fortunate than themselves as well.

At the end of last year, one such survivor, Odette Kayirere, now Executive Secretary of AVEGA Agahozo, the Association of Widows of the Genocide, was awarded the Guardian International Development Achievement Award for her work supporting thousands of widows and orphans in the country’s Eastern Province, an award for which SURF nominated her.

Odette is now working to open a new office to reach the 8,500 widows in membership of AVEGA in the Southern Region of Rwanda still requiring support. As many widows are now elderly and increasingly housebound, without the families that traditionally would support them, the need for AVEGA’s help is ever-more critical. Enabling AVEGA to undertake this critical and time-sensitive work, is our priority for the year ahead.

At the start of 2010 we were in a difficult position, with a critical need to sustain our programmes, but with a downturn in funding and the natural end of a number of large grants. However, through the consolidated effort of our staff, partners and trustees we were awarded a number of multi-year grants which have secured our future at least in the medium-term.

However, it raises questions as to how we will sustain ourselves as an organisation in future. These will be issues that we will be addressing as part of our strategic review in 2011 as we develop a new three-year strategic plan: What will SURF’s role be in the coming years? How will the organisation be structured? What will our relationship be with our partner organisations? Which areas of our current work will we prioritise? The purpose of this report though is to record the year’s events, to explain what we’ve learned from them, and to give a clear picture of what we are planning for the future. It also provides details on how Survivors Fund (SURF) is run.

Liliane Umubyeyi & Nick Joseph
Co-Chairs of Survivors Fund (SURF)