Avega-Agahozo Join the World to Celebrate International Widows Day.
By Diane Mushimijimana, Rwanda Focus.
23rd June 2016.
Avega Agahozo – Association of Widowed Genocide Survivors – were joined by other organizations for the welfare of widows in Rwanda today to mark the International Widows Day.
The celebration was held at the Avega-Agahozo’s headquarters. Mainly, the celebrants of the day marked the development of genocide widow survivors after 21 years. They also celebrated how they have managed to overcome the grief that has been associated with the loss of their beloved families that now they can work and live an independent life despite the hardship they passed through.
Mukarubuga Venantie aged 65 a resident of Remera Sector is one of the members of Avega Agahozo. During the Genocide she lost her husband, 5 children and many other relatives. She said that no matter what happened to them as widows they still have a reason to celebrate because of the good leadership that has helped them to overcome their sorrow progressively.
“Among the achievements I have been able to make, I’m glad that despite my age, last year I finished my bachelor’s degree in Science and education at LIET with distinction at the age of 64. Also I am a counselor by profession and I have a well developed livestock. I now have 33 exotic cows in my farm in Nyanza District. There are so many other fellow widows who have done so much for their lives that as a community we can look at them as models,” Mukarubuga said.
Mukarubuga reckon that there are some other widows currently who are still in extreme poverty and isolation. She emphasized on how such widows need more support and comfort from those who managed to overcome so that no one is left behind.
In her speech, Valerie Mukabayire, the president of Avega-Agahozo, said today has been an opportunity to celebrate the resilience that window survivors have demonstrated all the years after the Genocide. She commends the governance that has escorted and supported them with all the means available until now.
“Many who were in need of shelter got it; others got medical support, counseling as well as financial support. Today, there is a big improvement at all levels. We are also glad for many among us who have been able to start different income generating projects and now are really empowered and empowering others,” she remarked.
However, Mukagire added that this time the emphasis is on those who are still living with complicated emotional problems. She gave examples of those who were raped and left with incurable diseases. She comforted them by telling them how they are not alone. She assured them of full support through it all and whenever they feel they need.
To date, Avega has 19,009 members: 18,733 widows and 276 widowers, with 61,721 dependants. More than 1,600 of the widows are aged above 70 and close to 1,000 were left without a single family member.
The association’s members include 1,800 women who were raped during the Genocide and more than 1,000 children who were born out of rape during the Genocide.
In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly officially ratified June 23rd as International Widows’ Day and urged its member nations to focus on the needs of widows. This is the second time this event is celebrated in Rwanda but not at National Level.
Avega has committed itself to advocate that next time. Some of the senior members in the group suggested that the celebration can be expanded even at National Level so that widows country wide can get honored and celebrated for their achievements.