Project information

Counselling young survivors of Rwandan genocide

The project will train four Rwandan counsellors and 72 lay counsellors so they can provide counselling to 800 genocide orphans, in fortnightly group therapy sessions and one-to-one counselling.

June 2017 - November 2019

Charity information: Network for Africa

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  • Need


    While the 1994 Rwandan genocide is well known, less understood is the conflict’s lingering impact on survivors’ mental health and therefore their ability to lead normal lives and support themselves. Many orphans had to raise their siblings, some are single mothers, and others have been cheated out of their inherited property by distant relatives and strangers. Since Rwandan mental health services are woefully under-resourced, many face long-lasting trauma, anxiety or depression.


    We will train 4 counsellors and 72 lay counsellors in trauma counselling. They will be embedded in their communities and will run group counselling for beneficiaries. These sessions will raise awareness of PTSD and reduce stigma surrounding mental illness. Lay counsellors will also identify people who need more help and refer them to the project counsellors. We will also train 25 Rwandan health workers to recognise mental illness symptoms and refer people to appropriate services.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    800 beneficiaries experiencing trauma will manage/overcome their symptoms


    » Project counsellors and lay counsellors provide fortnightly group counselling to all beneficiaries.
    » Project lay counsellors identify beneficiaries who need additional help and refer them to project counsellors.
    » Project counsellors provide individual counselling to those who need additional help.

    What success will look like

    We will survey beneficiaries at the start and end of counselling to gauge their recovery and interview some of them to better understand their recovery process.

    Aim 2

    800 beneficiaries’ support networks are strengthened.


    » Lay counsellors offer beneficiaries informal opportunities to talk about their mental health challenges.
    » Through group counselling sessions, beneficiaries provide support to one another.

    What success will look like

    We will carry out in-depth interviews with some beneficiaries to understand how group counselling has helped them overcome their mental health challenges.

    Aim 3

    25 Rwandan health workers will have increased awareness of mental illness.


    » Train 25 health workers in recognising symptoms of mental illness and where to refer people with mental illness.

    What success will look like

    We will interview some of the health workers we train halfway through the project and at the end to understand how they have helped people with mental illness.

  • Impact


    Beneficiaries will be able to cope with their mental illness because of the counselling techniques they will have learned. They will have support from their group members so they will have people to talk to if they encounter challenges after the project ends. Following their recovery, they will be able to start earning money, helping themselves and their families. This will be demonstrated by the number of beneficiaries who get jobs or start their own businesses.


    There is a risk that beneficiaries might not come to group counselling at first because they don’t understand its worth. To deal with this risk their peers, the lay counsellors will be spokespeople for the effectiveness of counselling. There is also a risk that group counselling will not be sufficient for some beneficiaries, so we will offer individual counselling as needed.


    We will report to donors through our regular newsletter and updates on our website, and will also send out an annual report on this project. We will also publish an annual report that will include information about this project.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £111,754

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £81,437 Counselling support costs Counsellors' salaries, travel, supervision and lay counsellors' stipend and travel for 2.5 years
      £13,103 Trauma counselling training Regular training for counsellors, lay counsellors and 25 health professionals
      £5,466 Monitoring and evaluation Surveys and interviews at start and end of project to determine its effectiveness
      £11,748 Running costs Office costs and programme management staff salaries
  • Background


    The project will take place in Rwanda’s Southern and Eastern Provinces. Rwanda ranks 158 out of 188 nations in terms of poverty, provision of health and education, and quality of life on the UN Human Development Index. 71% of the population lives in rural areas, earning their living from subsistence farming. Despite the genocide’s impact on mental health, there are only 0.05 psychiatrists and 0.07 psychologists per 100,000 people.


    800 young survivors of the Rwandan genocide will benefit from this project. In a survey carried out with young genocide survivors, our project partner found that trauma from the genocide was still debilitating, with 88% of the survivors showing symptoms of PTSD and 77% showing signs of depression. The young women surveyed were suffering disproportionately due to competing demands on their time and an inability to find quality employment.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We have worked in Rwanda since 2007 providing vocational training for women aimed at reducing poverty through greater empowerment; and a training programme for young genocide survivors. Both of these projects include mental health support to address the lingering psychological impact of the genocide. In our experience, without mental health support survivors cannot fully benefit from training or move on with rebuilding their lives.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Sophie McCann

    N4A Executive Director of International Programmes; will oversee the project from the UK and support the project partner with project implementation.

    Samuel Munderere

    CEO of SURF (project partner in Rwanda), will oversee the whole project, including the providing strong financial oversight.

    Marouschka Buyten

    SURF Programme Manager, will manage the project on the ground, compile narrative and financial reports and oversee the M&E.

    Delphine Muterambabazi

    lead counsellor; will lead group and individual counselling sessions and support the other counsellors.