The Network for Africa Xmas Appeal is to raise funds for the Youth Entrepreneurship and Counselling Programme, which is run by Survivors Fund (SURF) and AERG (Association des Etudiants Et Éleves Rescapés Du Genocide), through the support of Network for Africa. The project enables young survivors to access counselling, then entrepreneurship training, and start-up loans, to enable them to overcome trauma and poverty.
The project will provide counselling to 300 young survivors to reduce their trauma and anxiety, enabling them to start income generating opportunities to alleviate their poverty and contribute to their long-term mental health. 24 of them will also be trained to be lay counsellors. All donations made through The Big Give to Tuesday 5th December will be matched until the target is reached.
While the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi is well known, less understood is the lingering impact on survivors’ mental health and therefore their ability to lead normal lives and support themselves. Many orphans had to raise their siblings, some are single mothers and others have been cheated out of their inherited property by distant relatives and strangers. Since Rwandan mental health services are woefully under-resourced, many face lasting trauma, anxiety or depression. Most are living in poverty.
Survivors Fund (SURF), with the support of Network for Africa, will train 24 lay counsellors in trauma counselling. They will be embedded in their communities and will run group counselling for beneficiaries. These sessions will raise awareness of mental illness, including trauma and reduce stigma. Lay counsellors will also identify people who need more help and refer them to the project counsellors. Relieving the survivors’ anxiety and depression, and offering support, will equip them with the confidence to return to work and alleviate their poverty. The project aims are:
- 300 young genocide survivors are able to use coping mechanisms that they have been taught, to help them through times of extreme stress and anxiety.
- 300 young genocide survivors start earning an income or developing their business plans.
- 300 young genocide survivors’ support networks are strengthened combating loneliness and isolation.
- 300 young genocide survivors will manage/overcome their symptoms.
The participants will be able to cope with their mental illness (anxiety, trauma) because of the counselling techniques they will have learnt. They will have support from their group members so they will have people to talk to if they encounter challenges after the project ends. Following recovery, they will be able to start earning money, helping themselves & their families. This will be demonstrated by the number of beneficiaries who get jobs or start their own businesses.
The campaign can be accessed here on The Big Give, with all donations matched through to Tuesday 5th December, or until the target is reached.