Continuing our series of articles from our Annual Report 2020/21, we outline here our work on our Community Counselling Initiative.
Through counselling for women victims of genocide rape, Survivors Fund (SURF) and Foundation Rwanda have provided counselling in a well-structured peer support approach to a total of 710 mothers through our Community Counselling Initiative. Of these, 50 received counselling during 2020.
The project includes in-depth monitoring and evaluation, surveying the women before, during and after working in the counselling groups. This provides the ability to track the changes in their circumstances and monitor their wellness, whilst also providing feedback to ensure that the counselling groups are having a positive impact and are helpful to the women.
These women, who were previously marginalised, stigmatised and alone in their trauma, can build their confidence and self-esteem, increase their knowledge, enhance positive emotions and reduce shame. The counselling groups also helped to improve relationships with their children and family.
Since 2016, we have extended the approach of group counselling to develop community counselling for the children of the women survivors too, as youth born of rape face great challenges related to trauma and social stigma as well. They are described as carriers of “deviant genes” and are often marginalised in their families and communities. In instances occurring during wartime, many societies have adopted hateful labels such as “children of shame” or “children of bad memory”.
Many mothers are starting to speak out against the negative perceptions and stigma associated with children of rape and disclosing to their children the circumstances leading to their birth. Many mothers attest that after disclosure the children now youth, need psychological support.
The youth retreats in 2020 brought together 60 youth to receive group counselling, reproductive health training and career guidance. This has provided vital support and assistance otherwise unavailable to them.