As a prelude to the publication of our Annual Review 2018-19, we feature from it a message from the Chair of Survivors Fund (SURF), Sam Hunt:
2019 will mark the 25th Anniversary of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. It will be an important milestone when we will remember not only the more than 1 million innocent men, women and children who perished in 1994, but also those who survived. Survivors are an integral part of Rwanda and its reconstruction – their well-being contributes to the well-being of the nation; their healing helps to heal Rwanda.
25 years ago, survivors emerged from an experience of hell and began to bury their loved ones. SURF built memorial sites around the country and tended to survivors’ most immediate needs – food, shelter, healthcare. In 2005, the British Government responded to SURF’s call to help women who had been raped and infected with HIV during the genocide, in a major programme to provide care and treatment. This was a landmark moment, resulting in thousands of lives saved. SURF has continued to work tirelessly to support survivors through holistic programmes focused on the most vulnerable, mainly widows and orphans. We sincerely thank all those who have given generously in small and large ways to help us in this vital endeavour.
Much has been achieved in Rwanda and by the Rwandan Government, but twenty-five years on, the consequences of the genocide are still acute. The passage of time has not diminished the suffering of the survivors, nor lessened the support many still require to rebuild their lives. Many survivors remain impoverished and face complex health problems, such as HIV and recurring trauma. Many are still without shelter and without support to develop livelihoods. As the survivor population ages, we are adapting our work to their changing needs, for example, by providing counselling support to address the intergenerational inheritance of trauma.
None of this vital work would be possible without the loyal support and generosity of SURF’s donors. We are deeply indebted to you. I would also like to express my enormous gratitude to the staff of Survivors Fund (SURF), led by our inspirational Director Samuel Munderere, who continue to demonstrate such faithfulness and dedication to our work. I also owe enormous thanks to SURF’s Board of Trustees for their steadfast commitment and support.
SURF’s vision is for a world where survivors are fully integrated, and their rights and dignity are respected. We are dedicated and committed to providing survivors with the support they need to rebuild their lives, as long as the need remains. We hope that you will join us in that vital mission.