In January, we piloted a new Youth Entrepreneurship Training Programme (YETP) in partnership with the Association of Student Genocide Survivors (AERG); made possible through funding from the Kattan Family.

Its guiding vision is to develop a model of best practice in the development of entrepreneurship skills that will contribute to the reduction of unemployment amongst Rwandan youth, in particular young survivor members of AERG at university.

In April, the new Widowed Survivors Empowerment Project (WSEP) for alleviating the poverty of genocide widows in Rwanda started. This project is in partnership with AVEGA Agahozo and funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID).

The three-year project, made possible by a grant of £966,360, will transform the lives of over 12,000 genocide widows in membership of AVEGA in the Southern, Northern and Western Provinces of Rwanda, as well as over 50,000 of their dependants. The project will enable AVEGA to extend their support to meet the need of genocide survivors for healthcare, education, shelter and income-generating activities, which is still overwhelming today.

One year into the project, AVEGA has established new offices in Huye (in the Southern Province) and Gicumbi (in the Northern Province), and is providing support to genocide widows across all seven districts in each Province, to secure ownership of their land and property, develop viable livelihoods and access available health services. It is also ensuring that the dependants of the widows can access education. Groups are already developing an array of projects, from restaurants to village shops, second-hand clothes stores to charcoal selling.

This work is supplemented by a new three-year grant of £498,632 from the International Communities Programme of the Big Lottery Fund, which has enabled the set up of a new Genocide Widows Empowerment Project (GWEP) in December.

GWEP will transform the lives of widowed survivors in the five districts of the Western Province of Rwanda (Karongi, Ngororero, Nyabihu, Rubavu, Rutsiro) not reached by AVEGA through WSEP, by eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, and empowering them to integrate into Rwandan society. This is being delivered through wraparound support (including legal aid, livelihood development and mental healthcare) which is proving to be a very effective approach.

Though a work in progress, the advances that we have made in ensuring that the issue of reparation for genocide survivors is on the national and international political agenda has been significant over the past year, and will continue to be a priority over the year ahead. This project, in partnership with REDRESS, may not deliver immediate success, though it continues to be the principal matter of concern for genocide survivors in Rwanda and thus in turn for SURF as well.

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