Continuing our series of articles from our Annual Report 2021/22, we outline here our work on our Foundation Rwanda programme.
Through funding from Foundation Rwanda, Survivors Fund (SURF) is currently addressing the education and counselling needs of young people conceived through rape during and under circumstances directly related to the 1994 genocide committed against Tutsi in Rwanda. The challenge for the affected mothers and children is that FARG, the government body that assists vulnerable survivors of the genocide, does not consider these young people eligible for support because they were born after genocide and thus are not by definition survivors. However, they are recognised to be a particularly vulnerable and marginalised population.
Since Foundation Rwanda’s inception in 2007, Survivors Fund (SURF) has been the key partner in providing life-changing services to the Foundation Rwanda families, which has helped more than 1,700 women and their offspring.
Unemployment is at a high rate in Rwanda, especially among young people. Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) has been a principal solution to address youth unemployment because graduates with a trade are more easily able to start their own businesses, create job opportunities and sustain themselves and their families financially. In September 2021, 100 new youth were supported to access TVET through funding for relevant courses and programmes.
Even though Foundation Rwanda have supported many young people to attend TVET courses and over 300 of them have graduated with adequate knowledge and skills, many of those graduates face unemployment challenge and do not have the capital to start their own businesses. The situation was exacerbated when the COVID-19 pandemic started, as the studies and employment opportunities of the youth were interrupted.
To address this challenge, Foundation Rwanda has set up a Small Business Innovation Fund programme to provide capital to youth who want to start small businesses. In 2021, and initial cohort of 16 youth have been sponsored to start their own businesses and there is a plan to support more youth in the near future.
The students who have grown into inspiring, hopeful young adults now face the challenge of securing jobs or attending university while grappling with the circumstances of their birth and the legacy of trauma. SURF remains committed to continue implementing Foundation Rwanda’s programs with our local partner organizations, Solace Ministries, Kanyarwanda, and AVEGA Agahozo.
“Foundation Rwanda supported my TVET education in Culinary Arts. Even though COVID has been challenging, I was so happy to graduate at the beginning of July, this year. In the few weeks that I am home I have started to put my skills to work! I have started to make snacks and sell them in the neighbourhood. I am making a very small income but at least I am not just sitting at home. It really makes me happy when people appreciate my snacks and cooking at home. I am really grateful to FR. Their support for me to attend TVET helped me not only to gain skills but also the confidence to navigate through life.”
“I only have my mother and we were both suffering financially. Then FR helped me to attend TVET where I did videography and graphic design. I started to get temporary jobs but it was hard to work without my own equipment. I applied for business funding to FR and I was able to buy my own equipment which helped me to start my own business in videography. Today, I am financially independent, and I am able to support my mom as well. I still have dreams to expand my business in the future and I am confident that I will achieve it. FR changed my life and I am very grateful.”