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Project information

Widowed Survivors Livelihood Project

A sustainable livelihood project to support widowed survivors of the genocide in Rwanda through training and facilitation of income-generating activities.

January 2011 - December 2011

Charity information: Survivors Fund (SURF)

Survivors Fund (SURF) logo
  • Need


    SURF has been working with a group of women survivors, all members of AVEGA (Association of Widows of the Genocide). At present the group has no sustainable source of income At present they are dependent on subsistence farming to survive. This project aims to empower them to rebuild their lives through secure employment through a cooperative that will generate a sustainable income to enable the women survivors to support themselves and their dependents.


    The initial objective is to build trust among the women and teach skills that the women will be able to use for income generation over the long-term. The primary intervention chosen is the teaching of sewing skills and basic business management skills. The plan then is to confer with the women about their intentions to move beyond a purely social affiliation with each other and toward the formation of a cooperative.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To facilitate for a group of 30 women survivors to form a sustainble income generating cooperative


    » Sewing training for the women survivors - to ensure that the group are able to produce high-quality products for local and export markets.
    » Management training for the women survivors - to ensure that the group understand basic bookkeeping, purchasing, invoicing, budgeting etc.
    » Establishment of a workplace for the women survivors - to ensure that they have a secure space, and the equipment, to undertake the work.

    What success will look like

    Success will be that the group is generating enough income to sustain the cooperative, as well as to improve their quality of life (to afford better food, clothes, shelter etc.)

  • Impact


    Ultimately the project will enable the women survivors in membership of AVEGA to have independent lives. Many are at present dependent on support including hardship grants and nutritional supplements. The income from this cooperative will enable the women to support themselves, and in the process will build their confidence and self-esteem and enable them to help others out of poverty and in the process to deal with the trauma of the genocide.


    There is always a risk working with such a vulnerable group as women survivors of the genocide. For example, each year over the anniversary of the genocide in April it is difficult for survivors to work due to the trauma evoked by that period. SURF works with AVEGA to ensure that psychosocial support is available over that time, so that help is available to those in need.


    Regular reports are provided to donors on the progress and status of the project, including where possible photographic updates as well as narrative and financial reports too.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £11,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £1,200 Sewing Trainers Two trainers per training, two times a week
      £1,200 Management Trainers Two trainers per training, once a week
      £600 Overheads Rent, electricity,
      £2,000 Transportation Allowance for each of the 30 participants to attend three sessions a week
      £2,600 Equipment and materials Including sewing machines, textile materials
      £2,000 Management For coordination of all trainings and activities
      £1,400 Monitoring and evaluation To report on and assess the progress of the project
  • Background


    The project is located in Ntarama in the District of Bugesera in Rwanda. This is an area with a particularly high density of survivors, and a high incidence of poverty. SURF recently funded the construction of a new health clinic in the area, which is managed by AVEGA. As such, the organisation already has a high profile in the area.


    The beneficiaries are women survivors of the genocide. Many lost their husbands and families in the genocide, as well as land and property. They endured trauma which continues to effect them today. Many of the women care for orphans of the genocide, which depend on them for support. All live below the poverty line at present, earning on average the equivalent of 85 cents a day from subsistence farming. This project will improve their income to above $3 a day.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    SURF has supported AVEGA since its establishment in 1995. As such we have supported the organisation, and helped it to grow, over the past fifteen years - enabling it to develop from a self-help group of 50 widows of the genocide to an organisation which now supports over 25,000 widows across Rwanda. SURF has specific expertise in monitoring and evaluatiion, a role we will play in this project.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Odette Kayirere

    Odette is the Coordinator of AVEGA Eastern Region, and a widow of the genocide herself. She has great experience working with other widows.