AVEGA maintains four key programmes
Meeting their Needs
Women and their dependents helped
AVEGA has established three health centres and four health posts. These centres provide medical treatment to members suffering from a range of diseases. They have made it easier to access regular care and medication. The health centres are also open to the general public and receive at least 6,000 patients a year.
HIV/AIDs TreatmentWe help more than 2,500 widows who contracted HIV as a result of rape during the genocide. We also help with efforts to educate the public in order to prevent new cases of the disease from occurring. We provide counselling services, HIV testing, treatment and psychosocial support to both adults and children in order to help those who have been infected to live positive, dignified lives. In addition, we also provide TB screening and implement an Adherence Support Section to closely monitor patients taking antiretroviral treatment and tuberculosis drugs. Village savings and loan facilities have also been established across the country to help patients with HIV/AIDS to access business loans and become financially independent.
Medicare and Ambulance ServiceWe provide home visits to genocide survivors with disabilities and elderly widows. We currently have three ambulances and a medical team who provide emergency and follow-up care.
Trauma HealingSexual violence was often used to humiliate and degrade women during the genocide. The UN estimate that 250,000 women were raped, and others saw friends and family brutally murdered, leading to severe trauma and mental health problems. We provide both individual and group counselling services focused on sexual abuse, physical abuse, domestic violence and hate crimes. We treat our clients with dignity and respect, providing a safe space in which to talk. We have district counsellors in each district of Rwanda and 1,200 psychosocial community workers at sector level.
Self-help GroupsSelf-help groups have been established to empower members to improve their self-confidence. They help to build lasting friendships and assist members with access to joint saving facilities to help them to become more financially resilient. Loans are then made to members to set up income-generating activities and small businesses.
Widows’ Handcraft ProjectMore than 80 widows participate in a handcraft project which helps to improve their welfare and living standards. Most of the participants have experienced extreme poverty and this project helps to improve their financial situation. Members currently make lapel badges to commemorate victims of the genocide, as well as bracelets, necklaces and earrings.
Hardship AllowanceThis project provides medical insurance (mutuelle de sante) to vulnerable women. It also provides meals and hospital transport if required.
Women’s Economic EmpowermentSo far, AVEGA has empowered more than 20,000 genocide widows and 12,000 of their dependents to improve their financial status in partnership with banks and financial organisations. We focus on income-generating activities and help members to develop viable business proposals so that they can access low-interest loans and start-up capital.
Cooking Stoves and Solar LightingAVEGA distributes cooking stoves, solar lamps and kitchen gardens to elderly widows and those affected by HIV. This helps to improve their overall quality of life and especially their nutritional intake.
Girls’ Empowerment ProjectShort-term technical and vocational training has been provided to more than 19,000 widows and more than 71,000 of their dependents, including genocide orphans and children born to rape. Among these dependents are young graduates who are struggling to enter the job market. We provide entrepreneurship training, help them to establish income-generating activities, provide technical courses such as ICT, and provide information on their rights as women. Unemployment is a big problem, especially among survivors whose mental health can affect their ability to remain in steady employment. We try to help these members towards becoming job creators rather than job seekers. To date, more than 500 young women have attended short-term training courses.
Legal Aid and Advocacy
AVEGA provides legal support for female genocide survivors. This is usually in the realm of property and inheritance resolution. We aim to secure widows’ rights and improve their access to legal services. 200 paralegals were trained to help educate widows and genocide survivors about their property and inheritance rights.