When she was hiding in the bushes during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Safi Mukundwa hopelessly prayed to God and promised to do everything possible to support the needy people if she survived the killers that were targeting her and her family.
Alone in the bush, the 7-year-old then was saved by a man who got her from hiding, took her in his home and raised her with his other children.
“I can say that I was miraculously saved, that my survival was not the mercy of the killers, but that a good Samaritan saved my life and that is why I decided to also become a Samaritan,” she said in an interview with Sunday Times.
Mukundwa, 31 and a mother of two says she grew up with that spirit until her dream became a reality.
How it started
She says her focus was to promote education among the vulnerable people especially the girl child while ensuring they are healthy and nothing deters them from having a better future.
“We all know that education goes hand in hand with better life and we wanted to insure that people we support are also healthy,” says Mukundwa, a resident of Nyarugenge District in the city of Kigali.
The idea that came decades ago was just an inspiration until five years ago when it came to life.
She got the inspiration when she shared her survival testimony at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre where she met visitors who got inspired and asked her how they could help her.
“I met people at the memorial site and, as I gave a testimony about my survival and renewal, they bacame touched and one, Devon Ogden from Los Angeles, asked me how they could help me, I asked him to help me help the vulnerable children,” she says adding that then she was a university student.
So in 2012, she founded Safi Life Organisation (SLO) to implement her project.
“I received money from well wishers and I started supporting one female student to go to university, I looked for more money and so far we have managed to help four women graduate while eight others are studying and will soon graduate,” she said
However, as time went on, Mukundwa says that her organisation cannot just help females as they are many other vulnerable people who are in need of support. She decided to expand her Samaritan activities to also reach a segment of these people.
She started a new project dubbed; “ Ndashoboye project” loosely translated as “ I am able project” that aims at helping single mothers, including young girls who don’t have any source of income to look after their children.
“We realized that part of our society was vulnerable and needed attention so we want to equip them with hands on skills. We are planning to train them in handcraft, hair dressing and welding among others to help them help themselves and we will help them create cooperatives and offer them start up kits,” she added.
The project will be fully operational in 5 years and will be implemented in two phases. It will target over 2500 females mostly single mothers and the pilot project is already ongoing in Gahanga sector, Kicukiro district where single mothers are undergoing training in hairdressing and knitting, according to Mukundwa
She said that they are planning to work with authorities from Kirehe and Rubavu districts as they have been identified as the most affected ones. The project will cost about Rwf100milion.
“We will work with local leaders to identify the needy people to support and I will keep mobilizing funds from donors and look for new ones, people plan bad things and they manage to implement them, so I don’t see why I will fail implementing good things,” she said proudly.
She added that she was in touch with Norwegian partners to see if they can implement the projects together.
Her advice to the youth
Mukundwa thinks that women should not feel weak and be cheated but rather be confident to work hard to develop themselves and resist any kind of violence against them.
Alphonsine Uwimana, a 26 year-old single mother of three from Gahanga sector said she was jobless but is now optimistic that her life and that of her children will change positively because of the skills she is acquiring..
“I am studying knitting using modern machines and also learning some basic English which I am optimistic will help me change my life,” she noted.