A counseling and legal telephone helpline was set up in August 2013 by AERG in partnership with SURF as a result of the need for young genocide survivors enrolled in Secondary School or University to access this support. As the first helpline of its kind in Rwanda, the helpline has already supported over 600 clients.
Jean Bosco is 22 years old and called the helpline because he had a legal problem. Both of his parents died in the genocide which left him and his little sister in the care of a relative. That relative sold his parent’s land illegally and without informing Jean. He came to AERG to get help so he could get his property back. “They came to my home and helped me draft a legal petition. Then the legal officer, Damascene, accompanied me to where the case was being heard. He intervened at the sector level and met with the secretary to advocate for me. They agreed to resolve the case and get my land back through administrative reconciliation.” About the helpline he continued, “The helpline was very useful. It was really important for me that the line was free. This line is very necessary because a lot of people have problems but don’t have money like me. We need help to resolve these issues. It’s very difficult to get support because a lot of us can’t pay a lawyer, and we can’t fight the case on our own. By coming to AERG, I was coming home.” Jean and his sister now have their house back but a lot of survivors like them don’t have parents and finding a house is very expensive. He says, “Now I have the assets from my parents and I don’t have to worry about my future. The house is in the Eastern province so when I finish studying I will move there. Right now I’m renting the house and making money from the rent.”
Pictured is Jean Bosco and Jean Damascene, AERG’s Helpline Coordinator and Legal Officer
If you are in Rwanda, you can access the AERG legal and counseling helpline number for free by calling 5476.