Survivor Organisations in Rwanda
Ibuka is the umbrella organisation for survivor associations in Rwanda. It acts as the main advocacy body for survivor organisations at home and abroad. Established in 1995, Ibuka works to preserve the memory of the genocide and lobbies for justice for survivors. Ibuka’s vision is to see a future where survivors live in dignity, are socially included and financially independent.
Ibuka advocates for survivors, and monitors support programs to ensure survivors’ livelihoods improve. The organisation is currently working to ensure justice for the survivors of the 1994 genocide through reparation. It is lobbying for an international trust fund for reparation.
For more details visit www.ibuka.org.rw.
AVEGA (Association des Veuves du Génocide Agahozo / Association of Genocide Widows)
AVEGA was founded in 1995 by 50 widows of the genocide. Their aim was to support fellow widows and their families. Today, the organisation cares for 20,000 widows and 71,000 dependants and orphans.
AVEGA works across Rwanda to provide physical and mental health services, education and training as well as legal services.
During the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, thousands of women were raped. Sixty-seven per cent of them contracted HIV as a result. AVEGA provides medical care for these women and more than 1,500 of its members receive antiretroviral therapy for HIV. Several country wide projects, including the Widowed Survivors Empowerment Project and Genocide Widows Empowerment Project, has enabled AVEGA to provide income generation training, legal support and trauma counselling to over 5,000 women.
AVEGA has been recognised internationally for its efforts in supporting the widows. In 2009 AVEGA was awarded the Geneva-based Women Summit Foundation award, for encouraging women’s creativity in rural life.
In recognition of the association’s role in supporting widows to recover from the effects of the genocide, especially trauma, AVEGA was awarded the Guardian International Development Achievement Award. In 2011, AVEGA was awarded the Gruber Women’s Rights Prize for its efforts to ensure and protect the rights of women and girls in Rwanda.
For more details visit www.avegaagahozo.org.
AERG (Association des Elèves et Etudiants Rescapés du Génocide)
AERG is a family for orphans of the genocide in Rwanda. In 1996, 12 student survivors started AERG to improve the lives of student survivors, and help them overcome the challenges of being an orphan. Today, AERG supports more than 43,000 student survivors at 400 secondary schools and 33 higher learning institutions.
As time passes, the student survivors get older and their needs change. AERG identifies issues faced by student survivors and provides financial and emotional support. The organisation runs entrepreneurship and training projects, provides counselling and legal support, recreational and sexual health education programmes and builds housing for homeless students.
For more details visit www.aerg.org.rw.
GAERG (Groupe des Anciens Etudiants et Elèves Rescapés du Génocide)
(pull quote: “GAERG aims to create a world where survivors’ livelihoods are self-sustaining and dignified”)
GAERG was formed in 2003 by Rwandan graduate genocide survivors. GAERG aims to create a world where the memory of genocide is alive and survivors’ livelihoods are self-sustaining and dignified.
GAERG focuses on capacity building and empowerment through education, socio-economic development and advocacy. The organisation has also established investment companies (TIC and APES with 250 million RWF in capital) as well as business cooperatives. Over 22,000 students have accessed mentorship from senior GAERG members at education retreats. GAERG advocates for better education, poverty reduction, health and shelter and legal assistance for its members. More specifically, GAERG advocates for reparation for survivors and their property rights.
For more details visit www.gaerg.org.
Kanyarwanda was established in 1991 to combat the spread of genocide ideology across Rwanda. It was among the few NGOs that remained operational before and after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Since then, Kanyarwanda has supported the survivors of the genocide to improve their livelihoods by helping them overcome physical and mental health issues (including trauma) as well as socio-economic, educational, housing, land and legal challenges.
Kanyarwanda provides medical assistance to 3,000 survivors with disabilities and chronic diseases. It provides counselling services to 432 raped women and educational assistance to 432 children born out of rape. The organisation provides legal services to 220 survivors who were under the age of 18 at the time of genocide and whose properties were illegally taken as well as 280 women who were raped during the genocide. Kanyarwanda also provides socio-economic assistance to 800 survivors with small and medium-sized income generating projects.
For more details visit www.kanyarwanda.org.
The Barakabaho Foundation was founded in December 1994 by Bishop Alexis Bilindabagabo to assist genocide orphans and widows. Barakabaho has organised families to foster orphans and provide them with a home to heal and transform their lives.
Initially, Barakabaho provided emergency relief to survivors. In 1997 it shifted its efforts to support sustainable economic development, with the aim of empowering its members and encouraging self-reliance.
Barakabaho has four major areas of operation: education (formal and vocational), economic development (income-generating activities and agriculture and livestock husbandry), healthcare (youth and drug abuse, HIV/AIDS and trauma counselling), and advocacy for survivors and lobbying for policy change.
Barakabaho focuses on education and economic development and provides school and transport fees and learning materials. It also supports income-generating efforts for vulnerable foster families, child-headed households and families affected by HIV/AIDS. Barakabaho also works to improve access to healthcare and education about the treatment and prevention of diseases.
For more details visit www.barakabaho.com.
Survivors Fund (SURF)
Founded in 1997, Survivors Fund (SURF) provides holistic support tailored to the needs of survivors. SURF is the principal international organisation supporting genocide survivors in Rwanda.
Since its establishment in 1997, SURF has supported over 100,000 survivors in partnership with survivor-led organisations including Ibuka, AVEGA, AERG, Kanyarwanda and others. These projects have included a model of livelihood development for genocide widows, and extend from education to employment, legal rights to livelihood development, healthcare to housing.
SURF envisions a world where the rights and dignity of survivors are respected. The organisation exists to rebuild a sense of self and trust in humanity among the survivors of the genocide. It works to deliver restorative justice programmes for survivors, to raise funds from the international community, to increase the number of survivors with secure and sustainable livelihoods, and ensure investments in education.
For more details visit www.survivors-fund.org.uk.