In the important 20th anniversary year of the Rwandan Genocide against the Tutsi the world turned its attention once again to Rwanda. We at Survivors Fund (SURF) were able to join with others, in both the UK and Rwanda, to solemnly remember the estimated one million Tutsi and many Hutu moderates who lost their lives during the three months of the 1994 genocide, and those who died subsequently, through injury and HIV. SURF was also able to restate its commitment to the living – to survivors.
When SURF was first established, we helped to wipe away tears, bury the dead, and to build nearly 50 memorial sites in Rwanda. Over the years our work has changed to adapt to the changing needs of survivors, from HIV treatment, to house building, from health clinics to supporting the education of youngsters at school, through to today. Our focus has always been to support vulnerable survivors and to build Rwandan-based survivor NGOs as strong organisations in civil society. Survivors continue to face challenges, some old, some new, and it is for that reason that SURF will continue to play an active role in addressing survivor needs in the post-genocide environment of Rwanda today.
Twenty years on Rwanda is a transformed country that is addressing infrastructure, poverty reduction, health, and education, in an unfailing drive towards a peaceful and vibrant society that will never again see the dark shadow of genocide cast over its beautiful hills. Survivors are important to Rwanda and to this process, not only through memory but also in their individual and collective contribution to communities and to the nation. They are also important to those of us from outside Rwanda who share universal values and a commitment to fighting and preventing genocide.
In this special year Survivors Fund (SURF) focused great effort on advocating for the ongoing needs of survivors, celebrating the progress of all, but highlighting that twenty years is both far and near. For the youngest orphans, just over twenty years old, higher education and technical training, jobs, and entrepreneurship are a top priority. Ageing survivors face new challenges, particularly those with no family to support them, whilst children born of rape, born after genocide, face the challenges of adult life with a heavy past. All survivors seek justice, the recognition of and reparation for the crimes committed against them, so that they can finally move on, and to that end SURF has supported calls for reparation at the highest level.
SURF’s work is only made possible through the generous funding of individuals and organisations, through the dedication of our partners and staff and through the commitment of survivors themselves who benefit from our programmes. I would like to thank you all for your precious support and respective participation in this collective work. This annual report highlights our main activities over the year past, the great success that we have enjoyed and the many challenges ahead.
For those interested to learn more, and to support our work further, please do log on to our website at www.survivors-fund-org.uk on which there are films which bring to life some of the projects detailed here, as well as information on how to donate.
Sam Hunt, Chair