With our excellent international partner, Network for Africa, and our local partner AERG, Survivors Fund (SURF) is providing counselling support for hundreds of vulnerable orphans. Through socially-distanced group counselling, through house calls and by telephone, we try to equip people with the psychological tools they need to negotiate a world in which they are, by definition, outsiders.
The story of Chantal (not her real name) could have been plucked from Victorian times. Most of her family were killed in the 1994 genocide. Her mother remarried and started a new family. She treated Chantal like a slave, so the girl left their village, heading for the capital, Kigali. There, Chantal hoped to find work as a domestic servant. She met an older man who made a fuss of her, offering her refuge and compassion in a harsh world. But when she became pregnant, the man vanished, forcing her to return to the village. Unable to bear the shame and hostility of her mother’s new family, she moved to another village, struggling to make ends meet, and feeling increasingly isolated.
A Sense Of Hope
When we met Chantal, she had attempt suicide, and was living in dire circumstances. She suffered from chronic headaches, loss of hope, flashbacks, insomnia and loneliness. However, once she started to receive counselling, she says she regained a sense of hope:
“My past difficulties became a lesson not only to me but to other young ladies who might have the same case as mine, but at least now I have a child who comforts me. I am a mother, this is my family. I get a smile, jokes and value from my child. This counselling group is my source of self-acceptance and new life.”
Chantal has started to find positive resources to draw on in her life, planning for a better future for herself and her family. Counselling techniques are helping her to deal with intrusive thoughts and to cope better with stress. After getting home visits and individual counselling, she is opening up and talking more. Life is still a struggle, but she does not feel alone now.
The Big Give Christmas Challenge
Click here to watch a video recorded by Network for Africa Founder and long-term SURF supporter, Rebecca Tinsley – it provides more information on why our mental health project in Rwanda is so important, and details of the Big Give Christmas Challenge 2020. Please help us to continue this work.
From December 1st – 8th, any donation you make through the Big Give scheme will be doubled. Please go online here from 12 noon UK time (7am EST or 4am PST) onwards to donate. The earlier you visit the site, the more likely there will be funds in the pot to double your contribution.
Thank you so much for considering a donation to our partner Network for Africa, and in so doing supporting the future counselling work of SURF.