Rwanda: Self-help groups
Many Rwandans are still deeply traumatised by the genocide. In particular Widows and AIDS orphans tend to live in abject poverty. Self-help groups improve their situation.Learn more
We have worked in this East African country since 1994. In Rwanda we currently support some 140,000 children and young people in 11 projects. Our projects are primarily in the Western and Eastern provinces (17 out of 30 districts) and are run by local partners.
During the genocide in 1994, nearly one million people were murdered. Many Rwandans are still deeply traumatised by these events. Widows and orphans in particular often live in abject poverty. The incidences of new HIV infections have dropped but still remain at nearly three percent.
In our project areas we encourage the poorest women in the region to join forces and establish self-help groups. These groups are highly successful in lifting families out of poverty and reconciling former enemies. Victims and relatives of the perpetrators of the genocide collectively resolve problems, jointly save money and, in turn, grant loans. The families’ improved economic situations particularly benefits the children and helps to gradually overcome the trauma of the country's genocidal past.
Our projects aim to ensure that children and young people grow up under decent living conditions and in a peaceful environment. The projects enable families to liberate themselves from poverty and overcome the deep divisions between the Hutus and Tutsis in the wake of the genocide.
The self-help groups that are established in our project areas proved to be an effective tool in sustainably combating poverty. By collectively saving money and granting each other loans, the women improve their families’ economic situation, which particularly benefits the children. In training courses they learn new methods of organic farming and achieving better harvests. Their children regularly eat healthy food and thrive. Working hand-in-hand with other women, members of the group experience solidarity. They are supporting each other and develop an unprecedented sense of self-confidence. The groups make a significant contribution towards coming to terms with traumatic experiences and reconciling differences in the wake of the genocide. Within the safety of the group, the women manage to speak about the past, often for the first time.
Sources: World Factbook, *United Nations