Comic Relief

The Survivors Fund (SURF) and AVEGA Agahozo team at the launch of the new Survivors Empowerment Project (SEP) funded by Comic Relief.

Survivors Fund (SURF) launches Comic Relief funded project in partnership with AVEGA Agahozo in the Southern Province.

By Minnie Karanja, The New Times.

On May 27th 2016 Survivors Fund (SURF) and AVEGA launched a two year Comic Relief funded project in the Southern Province. AVEGA is made up of 19,009 members, of which 9,725 are based in the Southern Province, making it the province with the highest number of women survivors.

Samuel Munderere, Survivors Fund Director, said the two year Survivors Empowerment Project (SEP) builds on a three year empowerment project that closed in March 2015 and aims to support vulnerable widows of the genocide perpetrated against Tutsi in the Southern Province. The project will increase and secure income through an integrated microfinance loan guarantee scheme and counselling model, and deliver safe sex and HIV prevention education to their dependents through a volunteer-led approach to ensure a better future and safer lives.

“Survivors Fund has partnered with AVEGA Agahozo for nearly 20 years and we are committed over the long-term to respond to the plight of survivors of the genocide against Tutsi. This has been done over the years through developing and delivering holistic programs ranging from healthcare to shelter, memory preservation through genocide memorial sites, education to entrepreneurship, legal access to livelihoods development, and trauma counseling just to mention but a few – all through partnerships with survivor-led organizations.” said Munderere.

The Survivors Fund (SURF) and AVEGA Agahozo team at the launch of the new Survivors Empowerment Project (SEP) funded by Comic Relief.
The Survivors Fund (SURF) and AVEGA Agahozo team at the launch of the new Survivors Empowerment Project (SEP) funded by Comic Relief.

Southern Province Governor, Munyentwali said that he was committed to support and monitor the project so that it achieves its intended objectives. “I call upon district mayors and vice mayors present here to ensure that this project becomes successful. Every three months, we should do a project implementation progress review to assess if we are on track to achieving results.” Munyentwali remarked during the launch of the project. He also called upon the project staff to take advantage of other existing opportunities in the province such as VUP programs and ensure that widows are not left behind.

The Survivors Empowerment Project was preceded by two other Comic Relief funded projects including Survivors Integration Project (SIP) that was implemented in Kigali City and Eastern Province from 2008 – 2012 and a shelter and memory preservation project in 1997. SURF aims to fundraise for priority projects and to build capacities of its partners to implement those projects and programs. Its mission is guided by the commitment to survivors and partners over a long-term, independency and flexibility in its response to priorities, identification of activities that are sustainable, as well as building the capacity of its partners to deliver programs.

SEP will thus be implemented by a team composed of four cooperative business development assistants, eight professional counsellors, supported by an income generating officer and accountant with direction from the Executive Secretary of AVEGA. The project takes advantage of AVEGA’s structures and has recruited 202 volunteers – both psychosocial and development volunteers who will be supported to deliver the project, especially in reaching out to beneficiaries in their communities. SURF’s main role will be monitoring, oversight and capacity building.

Samantha Lakin, one of SURF’s Trustees, added that the needs of Survivors evolve with time and the best way to address them more effectively is through holistic approaches such as the SEP project.

SURF was founded by Mary Kayitesi Blewitt OBE, a British citizen of Rwandan origin and is registered in the UK as a charity (No. 1065705) and a company limited by guarantee (No. 03411565).

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