Summary of our year

Here we describe our work in the year ending 31 December 2010, highlighting our strengths and weaknesses, and looking forward to the work that we plan to undertake in 2011. Progress is assessed against our goals as stated in the SURF Strategic Plan.

We will secure the rights of survivors to justice and protection

IBUKA documented less killing of survivors in Rwanda, in 2010, than in any previous year on record. This is due to the end of gacaca (village based genocide trials) in June. Though the process has now concluded, many survivors still have not seen justice delivered, and as such SURF’s work to support survivors is still pressing.


Last year we began working closely with Redress, a UK-based legal rights organisation. This is on a new project to assess the potential for securing compensation for survivors internationally and in Rwanda, which has been led by Juergen Schurr. This work has beenassisted on a pro bono basis by the global law firm, White & Case, to which we are indebted to Stefan Mrozinski and Zelda Hunter.

There are a number of ongoing civil cases being brought by survivors and supported by Redress in courts across Europe: Belgium, France, Germany, and the Netherlands. SURF is providing support for survivors to bring such cases in Rwanda through our partner organisations. This is funded by our grant from the Sigrid Rausing Trust, and is in partnership with the Rwanda Human Rights Commission.

Government Assistance Fund for Survivors (FARG)

With Redress, we are researching whether it is viable to reopen the debate on a compensation law for survivors in Rwanda; a bill of which was first drafted in 2001 but never enacted. Also, recognising the vital role of FARG (Government of Rwanda Assistance Fund for Survivors) in contributing to restorative justice for survivors, we are developing a plan to ensure that our partner organisations are better represented in the management, monitoring, and evaluation of the disbursement of funds – the continuation of which will be vital to vulnerable survivors in future years.

We will advocate nationally and internationally for the rights of survivors

The importance of advocacy was recognised at the inaugural meeting of our Forum of Partners in March, which brings together all the survivor’s organisations working with SURF in Rwanda. The partners called on SURF to advocate for the rights of survivors in four areas: education, employment, shelter and healthcare.

Right to education

SURF advocated successfully for FARG to take on more young survivors to its university scholarship programme, and nine SURF students were accepted to receive tuition funding – enabling us to support more students who took their place on the SURF scholarship scheme. SURF supported a record number of 86 young survivors through university in 2010 – with support that ranges from funding for tuition (on average around £650 a year) to comprehensive support, including funding for transport, accommodation, scholastic materials and hardship (which amounts to £1,500 a year). Twenty-one students on the programme graduated last year, and an event was organised at the SURF office in Kigali to mark the occasion.

Right to employment

A great achievement of last year was the establishment of the Education into Employment programme, which provides support to young survivors at university to secure a job on graduation. The programme is a model of best practice in how SURF develops new projects. In partnership with AERG (Student Survivor’s Association) we have launched a series of initiatives which have quickly become, or are becoming, sustainable and self-sufficient.

English language training offered to students is being developed into a revenue-generating school to be run by AERG. Computer centres, set up now at four universities, provide access to IT literacy training and revenue too. The plan for the year ahead is to extend access to the programme for more students. The work has been led by Maia Gedde and Albert Gasake, with the support of Catherine Russell.

Right to shelter

Through a wedding gift from Sammy and Natalie Kattan, four houses for households of survivors were completed in Kamonyi. An audit is ongoing to ensure that all 400+ houses that SURF has constructed over the years for survivors are registered in the names of individual survivors, so that they have ownership of the properties. SURF is hoping to raise additional funding over the year ahead, for the rehabilitation of houses that have fallen into disrepair, which is a particular priority for women survivors in the Western Region.

Right to healthcare

SURF has supported Solace Ministries and AVEGA in advocating for healthcare for survivors, in particular negotiating with the Ministry of Health and The Global Fund to ensure that adequate support will be extended to the three health clinics established as part of the Care and Treatment Project for HIV+ Women Survivors to continue to deliver high-quality care.

We will reach more vulnerable widows and orphans and increase their standard of living

Income-generating activities

Through the new grant from Comic Relief, we are developing a new programme with AVEGA and Solace Ministries for HIV+ women survivors and their dependents, many of which are genocide orphans, to increase their standard of living through income-generating activities.

The programme recognises that survivors need sustained support in order to develop a livelihood, and that the capacity of the partner organisations to provide such support is limited due to the number and remoteness of their beneficiaries. As such, we are training a cohort of young survivors from AERG as interns to assist the partner organisations to undertake outreach work to survivors; which in turn is providing the cohort with valuable work experience. This programme will be rolled-out in 2011.

Good Gifts

Through funding from the Good Gifts Catalogue, an initiative of the Charities Advisory Trust, we have extended our support to thousands of widows and orphans that are beneficiaries of our ongoing livestock and livelihoods programme. This enables SURF to distribute an array of valuable gifts. For many survivors the animals – which include chickens, goats, pigs, and cows – are a vital source of food and income. As well, the animals provide manure which helps to bolster the yield of crops.

Such livestock provide more than just income and food for survivors, but also company for isolated older survivors. This is proving to be increasingly important for housebound ageing widows who do not have a family. They look on the cows, chickens and goats – and as of this year, donkeys – as surrogate children. The impact of the project then extends beyond the material benefits of the animals, to the psychological benefits that it delivers for survivors.


Funding from Good Gifts enabled us to launch a new rural women’s empowerment project with donkeys. Donkeys are not native to Rwanda, but following yearlong research, we identified a breed from Northern Uganda which we imported to the Eastern Region. Training has been delivered in partnership with CREDI, and the impact has already been significant, as the donkeys help alleviate the burden of transporting water, firewood, food and goods, from women and children. This has freed up their time to attend school and work. We plan another transport of donkeys in 2011, extending the project to another region.

We will deliver greater access to essential services for survivors

Care and Treatment Project

The Care and Treatment Project (CTP) for HIV+ survivors of the genocide, funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), formally ended in March. The project that SURF advocated and set up will have a legacy beyond the end of funding. The three health clinics established at AVEGA Central Region, AVEGA Eastern Region and Solace Ministries have all now been integrated into the public health system and continue to provide holistic antiretroviral treatment to the 2,280 HIV+ survivors, and their dependents.

Comic Relief

In partnership with AVEGA and Solace Ministries, SURF developed a proposal which has been funded by Comic Relief to build on the success of CTP. The HIV+ Survivors Integration Project (SIP) was launched in October and will ensure the successful integration into the public health system of 1,375 HIV+ women survivors. SIP will also extend access to income-generating activities for 1,626 HIV+ women survivors, and sustain educational support to over 3,000 of their dependents.

Our challenge ahead is to ensure that both AVEGA and Solace Ministries have the capacity to independently raise funding and sustain support to their members beyond the project duration. We have two years to achieve this aim, and to do so we are focusing now on strengthening their systems and advocacy.

Ntarama Health Centre

The AVEGA Health Centre in Ntarama was extended last year, and there is a now a new laboratory wing adjoining the original health clinic; as well as a new health education centre. The hospitalisation ward was furnished and equipped with funding from Inspire!africa, and the clinic served a record number of 13,000 patients through the ongoing support of Network 4 Africa and the Tinsley Foundation which funded the salaries of the staff. The clinic dispensary is beginning to generate revenue, which is being put into a reserve ahead of the planned transition of the clinic to the Ministry of Health in 2012.

Foundation Rwanda

In a partnership with the US-based non-profit organisation, Foundation Rwanda, SURF delivered educational support to 500 children born of women survivors raped during the genocide. The plan is to expand the programme to support over 1,000 children by next year. The programme is critical as many of the children would otherwise have no access to school. In partnership with Dr Carl Auerbach and Denise Sandole of Yeshiva University, SURF and Foundation Rwanda are now developing a psychosocial programme which will empower the women to address the issues that arise as a result of their situation and relationship with their children.

We will build a solid institutional base for the work of SURF and its partners

Project Umubano

A ten person team from the UK Conservative Party worked with SURF on a two week programme in July to develop a capacity building workshop for our partner organisations. The workshop was held over two days and focused on training the partners in three areas: fundraising, communications and monitoring and evaluation. The team also developed a leadership and communications handbook which all participating organisations received.

Project Umubano is extending its work this year by delivering a practicum in which the partner organisations will gain real-world experience of developing and pitching new projects for funding.

Systems Review

In partnership with Health Poverty Action, SURF undertook a review of the systems in our Rwandan office, as well as four of our partner organisations: AVEGA, IBUKA, AERG and GAERG. The recommendations from the project are currently being implemented, and will serve to strengthen the capacity of the partners, in particular in the area of financial management. We are grateful to Mauricio Vazquez for leading the project.

SURF Projects Team

We established this year the SURF Projects Team which brings together in a virtual forum over 20 volunteers who are committing their time to support our work remotely. The team is proving invaluable in building our capacity to provide more support to our partner organisations, particularly in the translation and editing of documents and reports. The team also undertakes various research projects. Special mention goes to Noam Schimmel and Matthew Betts for their continued support, and Idong Umoren, who interned with us.


Through Comic Relief, we funded two staff positions at IBUKA, including a communications officer who developed the organisation’s first newsletter; helping to raise awareness of the situation of survivors in Rwanda today. IBUKA requires further support over the year ahead in cataloguing and following up the many outstanding legal cases of survivors, which will be a priority for SURF.

We will empower survivors in the UK to address their own needs

Awards for All

Through a new grant from Awards for All, we were able to support four commemoration events across the UK to mark the anniversary of the Rwandan genocide in Birmingham (with the West Midlands – Rwanda Community Association), Newcastle (with the North East Rwanda Association), Liverpool (with Liverpool City Council) and London (with Hope Survivors Foundation). The grant also enabled us to undertake a survey of UK-based survivors to better understand their current situation, and the continued support that they still require. This was led by Jean Louis Mazimpaka, and the research will serve as a strong foundation upon which Hope Survivors Foundation will extend its support to UK-based survivors in partnership with SURF.

Young Roots

Through funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, in a project led by SURF Education Coordinator Andy Lawrence (a history teacher at Hampton School), we empowered 12 UK-based survivors to record and film their testimonies in interviews undertaken by students from four schools: Hampton School in London, ES Culham in Oxford, Sandhurst Comprehensive in Bracknell, and Bilton School in Rugby. The testimonies have been collated on a microsite on the SURF website to educate more students about the genocide. We are grateful to Drew Sutton and Shirley Murgraff for delivering the film and oral history training on the project.

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