In 1994, the Genocide Against the Tutsi occurred in Rwanda. More than one million people were brutally murdered over the space of one hundred days. According to the former Ministry of Administration, Information and Social Affairs, more than nine hundred and thirty of those victims have been identified by name.
Whilst the world was coming to terms with this horrific event, a group of fifty women met in Kigali. On 15th January 1995, these survivors came together to share their experiences of the genocide. They had all been widowed during the violence and their aim was to provide care, support and comfort to one another.
As their group grew in number, they decided to create an association to help widows and their families across the country. They called this association AVEGA-Agahozo. AVEGA stands for Association des Veuves du Génocide (Association of Widows of the Genocide). Agahozo is a Kinyarwanda word meaning ‘to dry your tears.’
Today, we have more than 20,000 widows and over 71,000 dependents and genocide orphans among our members. We also work with young people experiencing transgenerational trauma and with children born to genocide rape. What began as a conversation has grown into a country-wide support network helping people to start businesses, become financially independent, reclaim lost land and property, and access mental health support.
The organisation was registered as a local non-profit on 30th October 1995, and is supported by the Government of Rwanda, President Paul Kagame and First Lady Jeannette Kagame, the Survivors Fund (SURF), and by organisations and individual donors in countries across the world.
In February 2020 we celebrated our 25th anniversary at Kigali Cultural Village.