Since Foundation Rwanda’s inception in 2007, Survivors Fund (SURF) has been a key partner in providing life-changing services to the Foundation Rwanda families, addressing the education and counselling needs of young people conceived by rape during the 1994 genocide committed against Tutsi in Rwanda. The challenge for these families 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.
On the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda (April 2019), photographer and Foundation Rwanda co-founder Jonathan Torgovnik returned to Rwanda to embark on the follow-up project to the Emmy-nominated short film and subsequent book Intended Consequences. Disclosure tells the Foundation Rwanda families’ stories after the mothers disclosed the truth about their children’s conception. The children are speaking for the first time, as young adults, reflecting on the years of growing up in the shadow of being called “children of the killers.”
Intended Consequences began as a multimedia project in 2007 by photojournalist Jonathan Torgovnik with the story of Odette, the first of many courageous mothers who shared their harrowing experiences of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. At the end of her interview, Odette quietly revealed that she gave birth to a baby boy as a result of genocidal rape. Over 30 women with children born of rape participated in the initial project. With the help of our incredible supporters, the Intended Consequences project grew into the nonprofit Foundation Rwanda, a movement that has helped nearly 1700 women and their offspring. Our goal is to fulfill the wishes of mothers who survived horrific trauma against all odds. Foundation Rwanda sponsors schooling for Odette’s son, Martin, and more than 800 second-generation survivors born from rape, as well as holistic support programs that were suggested by the Foundation Rwanda families themselves.
Disclosure continues to shed light on the underreported issue of rape used as a weapon of war, and its consequences: the children born of rape in conflict areas and the complex and deep trauma they live with for generations. The testimonies embody stories of hope, forgiveness, fragility, and a strong undertone of the lingering struggles associated with severe trauma and effects of genocide. All testimonies, given in 2019, were translated from Kinyarwanda to English by Samuel Munderere and have been edited for brevity and clarity.
This project was supported by the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting and is published in the NY Times, The Telegraph (UK), Stern.
Foundation Rwanda Program Update
Over 830 Foundation Rwanda students will graduate from secondary school or vocational training by 2020. As the children who have grown into inspiring, hopeful young adults face the challenge of securing jobs or attending university while grappling with the circumstances of their birth and the legacy of trauma, SURF will continue to implement Foundation Rwanda’s programs with our local partner organizations, including Solace Ministries, Kanyarwanda, and AVEGA Agahozo.
There is still much work to be done! All future donations will fund the holistic support programs that are strategically implemented, managed, and evaluated by our local partner Survivors Fund (SURF) in collaboration with AVEGA, Solace Ministries, and Kanyarwanda. A sum of $200,000 would allow each family to access support and each program to be fully funded. For more on program breakdowns and SURF and Foundation Rwanda’s operating structure and partnership, click here. You can support this work through making a donation to SURF in the UK, or through making a donation to Foundation Rwanda in the US.
Check Out Our Work
SURF has produced two short films on our counselling and vocational education projects in collaboration with Foundation Rwanda to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda.