COVID-19 Emergency Response Project (CERP)

Ntarama Health Centre
Ntarama Health Centre

First, we would like to thank all those that contributed to our our COVID-19 Emergency Appeal. We raised over £1,500 from supporters which we were able to use towards providing hardship and nutritional assistance for the most vulnerable households. So thank you dearly to all those that donated – as your generosity is greatly appreciated and has helped us to make a real difference to those most in need.

We featured recently the interview SURF gave to The New Times on the current situation faced by survivors as a result of the commemoration period falling during the lockdown (which has just been eased, but many restrictions remain in place). SURF and our partners are continuing to receive an unprecendented number of calls from survivors to our counsellors. SURF’s Counsellors alone have responded to over 1,200 calls over the three week period since the start of the commemoration period.

While SURF has been providing psychological support through counselling groups, this is no longer possible due to the current crisis. As such there is a need to provide counselling services remotely, principally through phone, with follow up to ensure those reporting mental health issues have access to the support they need. Also, where required, we are having to provide emergency hardship and nutritional support to the most vulnerable persons in need.

The COVID-19 Emergency Response Project (CERP) is a new project which is being funded by Clifford Chance which builds on our successful model of providing counselling through both a toll-free helpline (made possible through the generous funding of INSPIRE!africa) and other phone-based counselling to survivors, and will leverage our partnerships with key survivor-led organisations which are active across Rwanda: AVEGA Agahozo, AERG, GAERG and IBUKA.
CERP will focus on 3 principal activities. First, we will raise awareness about our available psychological services and mental health issues affecting survivors through radio and social networks. Second, we will deliver support, in the form of access to phone counselling, and hardship support to those in most need whose mental health condition is affected by the lockdown and commemoration. Third, we plan to monitor and learn from the work as it is conducted to continuously adapt and strengthen the delivery of it.

We have set up and are now operating more toll-free lines to supplement our still ongoing AERG Legal and Counselling Helpline, which are operated by a team of professional Counsellors, coordinated by SURF’s Senior Key Worker and Head Counsellor, Emilienne Kambibi. The Counsellors are being supported by a network of Peer Support Counsellors, who are volunteers of our local partner organisations based in different communities which have previously received training in providing basic mental health first aid, who will be assisted with a stipend for airtime and internet costs to enable them to be fully available and provide phone-based follow-up, as well as any additional support requested. Together they will then be able to identify the households requiring additional hardship and nutritional assistance which can then be transferred directly to those most in need through mobile transfers.

We are deeply grateful to all the team at Clifford Chance for responding so quickly to enable us to roll-out this support to reach those most in need at this most challenging time. As well as to our many institutional and individual donors which are enabling us to deliver supplementary support at this time.

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