The past month has been one of great turmoil and uncertainty in Rwanda and around the world as we all come to terms with the new reality that is resulting from Covid-19. The Government of Rwanda was quick to react, and announced the first lockdown of any African country on 21st March for an initial two weeks, which has now been extended for a further two weeks until 19th April. Similar to measures which have been taken in the UK, this aims to reduce the spread of Covid-19 through restricting unecessary movement and travel, and closing educational institutions and all but essential businesses.
As a result SURF Rwanda has shut its office, and our staff are working from home providing what support we can to our partner organisations and their beneficiaries. We are working to adapt our projects with approval from donors to address the immediate need for greater nutritional and hardship support for the most vulnerable and marginalised survivors, and to transition our counselling groups which can no longer meet in-person to phonebased support.
This is particularly pressing at this time, as we about to embark on the commemoration period which marks the 26th Anniversary of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda (Kwibuka26), a time when the need for mental health support for survivors is acute. As such we are launching this appeal which is calling for donations which will enable us to extend the support so desparately needed by housebound survivors for both food and counselling over the months ahead.
Though we are aware that there are many pressing needs at this time, thanks to a number of donors and partners of Survivors Fund (SURF) including Foundation Rwanda, Network for Africa, INSPIRE!africa, Addax & Oryx Foundation and UK Aid Direct we are working on adapting our current programmes to address the immediate needs of the most vulnerable survivors impacted by Covid-19.
However, the need is great and those in need are many, so we are calling on you, our supporters, to help with this effort. If you have the means, any donation of whatever value will be of great value, to help our work ahead across two areas in particular:
1. To transfer mobile cash to the most vulnerable and marginalised survivors, and survivor-headed households, in need of immediate assistance for nutritional and hardship support. This is particularly important for those survivors that cannot any longer generate income from their work (for example running market stalls, or kiosks, which are now closed up). Some will receive support from local authorities, though there are many that will need additional support – and we particularly are looking to support those living with HIV and AIDS which depend on good nutrition. Also, to ensure that those survivors have access to the treatment that they need where they are unable to travel to the clinics from where they get their medicines.
2. To provide access to phone-based counselling, which is particularly important to help survivors receive support for trauma as we approach the commemoration period marking the anniversary of the genocide next month. This is the most difficult and challenging time for survivors, which is now made even more acute due to the isolation and exclusion imposed by the lockdown. We have the Helpline set up to provide access to support, though we are hoping to try raise funds to enhance the capacity of it, as well to provide counsellors and survivors with more airtime where dedicated one-to-one counselling is required in place of group counselling.
If you can help, then please do consider making a donation. Thank you!