25 years later: Survivors Fund (SURF)

Genocide Widows produce handicrafts with SURF supporter, Rachel Collingwood
Genocide Widows produce handicrafts with SURF supporter, Rachel Collingwood

By Michel Nkurunziza, The New Times

When government gathered efforts to rebuild the nation after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, civil societies were not excluded. One is Survivors Fund (SURF), a charity that was established in 1997 to empower and advocate for Genocide survivors.

As we mark the 25th anniversary of the genocide against the Tutsi, we recognize the role of Survivors Fund in restoring hope and dignity to many Genocide survivors in Rwanda. Thanks to SURF for over 10,000 widows have developed livelihoods through business trainings and access to finance, livestock projects,  economic empowerment projects and mental health and legal aid to youth survivors to recover their parents property taken by their relatives. Provided education sponsorships to well over 1,000 university students.  Has supported youth entrepreneurship and work readiness training working with Association of Student Survivors of Genocide (AERG) this resulted in the establishment of more than 100 new businesses.

Over 2,500 women Genocide survivors infected with HIV have been supported to access care treatment. Figures show that over 10,000 young Genocide survivors were supported to access legal support and basic legal education through the Association of Student Survivors of Genocide (AERG) legal and counselling helpline supported by SURF and our partners Inspire!africa. Over 400 houses were built for vulnerable Genocide survivors in desperate need of secure shelter while over 40 Genocide memorial sites received part support towards their construction from Survivors Fund (SURF) to provide decent burial for many genocide victims.

SURF is addressing the most pressing issues affecting youth born of rape and their mothers, namely educational and psychosocial support such as trauma counselling. It has supported about 850 young people born of rape towomen survivors to attend secondary school and vocational training more than 500 women victims of genocide rape have received tailored counselling support.

Why support for survivors is still needed 25 years on

To provide the support still needed by the survivors in Rwanda is why the work of Survivors Fund (SURF) is still needed twenty five years on. Much has been achieved but the work to support survivors 25 years after the Genocide is still important because the needs of survivors are still there and changing with time. Survivors are still facing the consequences of the Genocide and still need to rebuild their lives. There are still challenges of mental health, ageing survivors and unemployment among many young survivors and need for skills training among others.

Many survivors remain impoverished and face complex health problems, such as HIV and recurring trauma while others are still without proper shelterand others without access to loans start their small business.

Preparation of 25th Anniversary of the genocide against the Tutsi

As we commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, SURF is working  hard to provide counselling support during this time to ensure that survivors have access to support to help address the recurrence of trauma that can often be provoked at this time. SURF is helping to address the extensive trauma still affecting survivors today. The fund is  planning to launch a campaign #25forSurvivors which will be calling on those in the international community to make a donation of 25 pounds, dollars or euros to provide the ongoing support still required by survivors 25 years after the Genocide.

If you wish to support the work of Survivors Fund please visit us at www.survivors-fund.org.uk

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