On one of my early trips to Rwanda, in 2006, I took a group of friends to see our projects, hoping they would support our work. We visited a remote rural village in the company of our long-time local partners, SURF. We were introduced to a middle-aged woman who had horrific scars on her neck and face from where a Hutu genocidaire manning a roadblock had tried to kill her twelve years previously.
Her home was a disintegrating mud hut and her only furniture was a rickety wooden bench on which we sat while she told us about witnessing the murder of her husband at that same road block. She and her two children had survived by lying in a ditch, pretending to be dead. When she had told her story, I asked about her hopes for the future. One of my friends shot me a look of disbelief. He was clearly astonished I assumed this woman had any reason to be optimistic. He was radiating discomfort.
The woman grinned and replied:
I am so lucky. I give thanks every day that I survived; that my children survived. I know they will have a better life. They get schooling I never had, and they will find work because they are literate. SURF is helping me, and you have to come to visit me from countries far away. So, I am very helpful.
My companions saw the point of supporting our work in partnership with SURF, and so have other friends who have made the same journey with Network for Africa. To quote one of them, “If this doesn’t change the way you look at the world, nothing will.” As the Network for Africa team wishes you a happy and healthy 2023, we thank you for your continued support. We also salute our three partners in our New Year wishes – SURF in Rwanda, BNUU in Uganda and Conforti in Sierra Leone, without whom our mental health work would not be possible.
SURF recently celebrated their 25th anniversary with a film about their work. Here is a short clip, illustrating the impact of the counselling programme in Rwanda.
Please click here to watch the clip.
Please help us to raise funds for each of these projects in 2023. If you are able to support us, please get in touch or click on the button below. Thank you, and keep hoping for the best.