The National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide (CNLG) have announced that the theme for the 19th anniversary commemoration of the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda will be kwigira (self-reliance).

A training session for genocide widows of AVEGA

Fostering self-reliance for genocide survivors is the bedrock on which all the work of Survivors Fund (SURF) is built. No one enjoys to be dependent on hand-outs, and as such our focus is providing the tools and resources to provide a hand-up to genocide survivors to enable them to rebuild their lives after the genocide.

However, to successfully achieve such self-reliance requires specialised and expert support. It requires tailored programmes that are attuned to the particular needs of genocide survivors, delivered by staff that are sensitive to the challenges of the survivors too. With such support in place, the experience of SURF is that self-reliance which can be sustained is possible.

This has been the experience for genocide widows as proven through our HIV+ Survivors Integration Project (SIP), and which we are demonstrating through our current Widowed Survivors Empowerment Project (WSEP). The importance of resilience is also demonstrated to be critical for the fostering of self-reliance in genocide orphans, in research led by Professor Carl Auerbach.

As such, Survivors Fund (SURF) will be campaigning around the 19th anniversary commemoration for further funding and support to enable the self-reliance of genocide survivors over the years ahead. As Noam Schimmel writes in the Huffington Post, it is critical that the UN and international agencies commit:  “…funding and programming to meet the needs of genocide survivors in Rwanda today and transform vulnerability and disadvantage to security, rehabilitation, and empowerment.”

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