SNV Rwanda recognises the importance of giving back to the community and has therefore put in place a tradition to honour victims of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, during the country’s 100 days of mourning. The 2017 commemoration event was slated for June at Bugesera District.
Helena Nyirasafari is a widow living in Murama Cell in Nyamata sector of Bugesera District in Rwanda’s Eastern Province. She lost her husband during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. With the bread winner gone, Nyirasafari and her children have lived a life of poverty. She explains that the local Government settled her and her children on a plot of land which has a house. However, the family has hitherto had to fulfil their calls of nature in a rather unusual way.
“We have been living in incomplete houses for three years without toilets and we often have to go to the neighbours’ home to use the latrine. The children sometimes find it easier to go to the garden,” Nyirasafari narrated.
For Nyirasafari, this ordeal has come to an end thanks to Rwf1.2 million that was raised by the staff of SNV Rwanda to support activities aimed at commemorating the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.
Her family was one of six genocide survivor households selected to benefit from a new latrine. Going beyond financial contribution, SNV staff then visited the area and spent a day at the village helping the locals to mould bricks and lay the foundation slab for the latrines.
“We are very grateful to you (SNV) for coming to lend us a hand and restore dignity to us”, a grateful Nyirasafari said.
Speaking at the event, SNV Rwanda country director Phomolo Maphosa commended the Rwandan people for their resilience in the years following the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
“Tragedy will either cause a nation to crumble, or bring the people closer and fortify the unity between them. The Republic of Rwanda today stands as a global example of a people that refused to be torn apart by the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, when over a million people were killed as the world watched.”
“In our development works in different parts of the country, we have encountered ordinary people whose drive to thrive is unrivalled. We are therefore honoured to be part of the international NGO community that is effecting change and eradicating poverty through bringing water, sanitation, renewable energy, nutrition and agriculture to rural households across the country,” the Country Director said, assuring the beneficiaries that the toilets would be ready in two weeks.
Teamwork:SNV staff and district mayor scoop mud to lay bricks to build latrines
Country Director Phomolo Maphosa uses a shovel to level out the concrete slab
The team from SNV was received in Nyamata by Bugesera district Vice Mayor in charge of Economic Development, Eric Ruzindaza.
“This SNV intervention to build concrete toilets is helpful for the Genocide survivors. We construct their houses but there are more needs that call for partnership. Other activities will t follow for example installation of electricity in order to improve their livelihoods. They need support, and we thank you for heeding the call,” Ruzindaza said in his speech.
After hours of moulding bricks and mixing concrete, SNV staff proceeded to lay wreaths on the Ntarama Genocide memorial site and lit the candles of hope in remembrance of over 1000 women, men and children who were killed after seeking refuge at what used to be a Catholic church but is now a museum.
Helena Nyirasafari, (left) and fellow genocide survivors listen to speeches
Country Director Phomolo Maphosa places a wreath on one of the mass graves