AVEGA Agahozo, an association of widows of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, has won a global women rights prize worth $500,000 (approximately Rwf 300 million) for their role in the promotion of the general welfare of their beneficiaries.
The award was given to them by the Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation a US based philanthropic organization.
In establishing the award in 2003, the foundation’s hope was to redress restrictive laws and customs that deprive women, not only of their human rights, but also of their ability to enrich the human condition.
In a statement, the foundation extolled AVEGA for possessing the ideals for which the award was created.
“These women not only help one another, they have reached out to orphans of the Genocide, to parents who lost children, to the elderly and disabled, and in short, have improved life for all of Rwanda – and set an example for the rest of the world,” reads the statement from the Foundation.
Speaking to The New Times yesterday, the president of AVEGA, Chantal Kabasinga, said that the prize made them realise that they are doing a great job and it has elevated their esteem in society.
“We will use the prize money for further development of the vulnerable women, especially the genocide widows,” Kabasinga said.
The association seeks to promote the general welfare of widows through legal advocacy, social and economic development projects, and education, training and other support that contributes to income generation and self-sufficiency.
It operates three health centres and provides medical services to thousands.
AVEGA Agahozo supports more than 20,000 widows as well as 71,000 dependents and orphans.
It offers medical assistance to those suffering from AIDS and has coordinated voluntary testing for HIV for more than 10,000 of its members.
It, among other things, delivers antiretroviral treatment and wraparound care and treatment, including nutrition support, to more than 1,500 women.
Last year it introduced a new program to provide educational support to children born to women survivors of rape, a particularly marginalized group in Rwanda.