Following the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis where so many lives were lost and property destroyed, the government embarked on a number of ambitious development plans to rebuild the country. One of the priorities was to ensure that the needy and vulnerable survivors of the genocide were supported and rehabilitated. It’s in this regard that The Fund for the Neediest Survivors of The Genocide in Rwanda (FARG) was established in 1998, to assist them.
FARG’s plan was to rehabilitate the survivors through five focus areas; Health, Direct Support Housing, Education, and Income generating activities. With this support, survivors would be able to recover from the suffering and pain inflicted upon them by the genocide, then go on to lead stable and productive lives.
According to FARG Authority, education is an area that has been greatly invested in, consuming 75% of the total budget allocated to FARG. For survivors to benefit from FARG assistance as it is stipulated by the Law establishing the Fund No 81/2013 of 11/9/2013, they should have been living in Rwanda between 1990 and 1994. When they enrol, they are facilitated right from secondary school to Undergraduate level. Throughout their time of school, each of them is provided with scholastic materials and school fees in secondary whereas monthly allowance of FRW 25,000 and school fees for students in higher learning. The first batch of enrollment between 1998 and 1999 when FARG was established had 24,147 students in secondary schools and 295 students in higher learning education institute . A total of FRW 2,479,436,954 in school fees was spent on secondary education and FRW 40,194,500 on higher learning education at the time.
As the years progressed, there was a growing trend in students enrolled in secondary schools until 2009.In 2008,the student number hit 52,737 (new and continuing students) in secondary schools and FRW 7,828,964,520 was spent on school fees by FARG. Beyond 2009,the number of students in secondary schools had decreased and in 2017,there are only 2,672 beneficiaries enrolled. In various higher learning institutions however, there have been more students enrolled over the years and in 2017, 15,158 survivors are currently benefitting from the program. This explains that more survivors have completed secondary school to pursue higher learning education.
“Since FARG was established, 105,196 students have completed secondary school and 20,724 completed higher learning respectively. This is a great achievement for FARG,” says FARG Authority.
Another area prioritized by FARG is health. Due to the genocide, many survivors suffered severe physical bruises, were raped and contracted diseases that required special medical attention.”Currently, FARG is supporting the survivors with treatment in referral hospitals like King Faisal Hospital and some acute cases are treated from outside the country.”He adds that, “Treating survivors from outside the country is however expensive but Rwanda Military Hospital has been able to assist with the treatment of some of them.”
In 1998, there were 760 beneficiaries treated in the country and 24 others outside the country. FARG spent a total of FRW 32,679,506 on treatment of survivors inside the country during the first year. Between 2015 and 2016, there were 23,690 survivors treated inside the country and 32 abroad though 43,207 genocide survivors were treated through outreach(army week) by the end of February 2017. A total of FRW 10,139,033,176 has been spent on treatment of survivors from 1998 to 2016 inside the country and FRW 1,425,765,56 abroad.
“During the genocide, a lot of property was destroyed, among which were people’s houses. This rendered so many of them homeless. However, after the genocide, there were interventions from churches, NGOs, embassies to secure shelter for the survivors. But when FARG was established, efforts to construct new houses and rehabilitate the old ones were launched in 1998,”says Mr. Munyangondo.
In 1998, 2,555 houses were constructed although no houses were rehabilitated in the first year, 302 houses were rehabilitated in the year 2000 where FARG spent FRW 790,910,431.By 2016,a total of 27,654 new houses had been constructed for the survivors and 3455 houses rehabilitated since 1998. Between 2016 and 2017, a total of 534 houses are being constructed and 83 houses are being rehabilitated.
Income Generating Activities
FARG facilitates genocide survivors through income generating activities like Girinka, where they receive cows among other small projects. They also receive training on how to manage these activities. Between 1998 and 2000, about 14,066 people benefited from these activities. A total of FRW 1,182,660,968 has been spent. As of 2016, about 46,551 had been assisted ever since FARG started. Between 2016 and 2017, 1500 cows planned to be provided to the FARG beneficiaries who are able to work.
“Among the 46,551 beneficiaries, 6000 beneficiaries have received cows under Girinka, meaning 6000 cows were bought and delivered to the beneficiaries,” says FARG
FARG has offered assistance to some needy survivors who may not have resources to run their day to day social life. Between 1998 and 2000, 2230 beneficiaries were assisted under Direct Support with FARG spending FRW 20,000,000.
“In 2013, FARG started a special program to assist the elderly survivors who were left without anyone, because their children, relatives or even spouses were all killed in the genocide (incike),” says Mr. Munyangondo. About 1560 incike and elderly genocide survivors with critical problems of health benefited under that program in 2014.
In 2017,23,836 needy genocide survivors are being assisted under Direct Support whereas 1544 are assisted as ‘incike’ and elderly genocide survivors with critical problems of health.
Generally, FARG has been able to achieve most of its targets. Most genocide survivors have been able to complete secondary school and higher learning institutions. The ones who have successfully completed their higher learning have gone to lead stable and productive lives.
FARG has so far partnered with UNITY Club, a group comprised of former and current government officials with their spouses. These ones have been able to give financial and moral support to the widows, widowers and the elderly. It has also partnered with the Reserve Force and Rwanda Military Hospital which has treated some of the genocide survivors.
BENEFICIARY SPEAKS OUT
I am Nyinawankusi Solange, 37, born in Nyanza District. During the unfortunate genocide against the Tutsis in 1994; I was attacked by unknown malicious people who threw me into the toilet three times. This severed my backbone and my lower limbs were paralysed permanently at the age of 14.After the genocide, I struggled to go to hospital to seek treatment because of my condition and also because I was alone. When the government created FARG, it approached me and started facilitating my treatment. It also provided me with food, clothing and even bought me a house, near the road.FARG has been giving me a monthly allowance that I use to run my day-to-day life and pay my maid. I will forever be grateful for this.
Although it’s been difficult for us survivors, I urge all of them to be strong during this time. I also understand that it’s difficult for FARG to help us all at once but we have hope that those who haven’t got help will soon get it.This is because they started by assisting those that suffered a lot.
I would like to thank the RPF and the government of Rwanda for rescuing us and bringing an end to the genocide. I would also like to thank FARG again for their continued support and encourage the people to remain strong during this commemoration period.