Avega highlights plight of aged needy widows

The Genocide Widows Association, Avega-Agahozo, has stressed that needy elderly widows of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi need help.
Jeannette Gahongayire, Avega-Agahozo Coordinator Eastern Province, is determined to provide homes for the widows. The New Times/S. Rwembeho.
Jeannette Gahongayire, Avega-Agahozo Coordinator Eastern Province, is determined to provide homes for the widows. The New Times/S. Rwembeho.

The Genocide Widows Association, Avega-Agahozo, has stressed that needy elderly widows of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi need help.

Avega officials disclosed this Friday during an interview with Sunday Times as they prepared for the 19th commemoration of the Genocide in Rwamagana District, Eastern Province.

The Executive Secretary of Avega, Odette Kayirere, said most elderly widows were experiencing a painful period of bereavement, severe loneliness, as well as poor mental, emotional, and physical well-being.

Kayirere noted that Avega was working around the clock to avail the widows with homes and more meaningful welfare.

“We started thinking about the idea of improving the welfare of the aged last year...it is a process that was meant to sensitise all levels. I am however convinced that we are at a stage where we can discuss implementation,” she said.

Kayirere added that some widows would fit better in nursing homes but would need people to look after them.

“We are at a difficult stage because some genocide widows were born in the early 1900s. They are very old, which means that their bodies are more susceptible to illness and physical weakness. They were severely injured during the genocide. Finding them nursing homes would make a difference,” she said.

For Jeannette Gahongayire, Avega Coordinator for Eastern Province, the commemoration period will be characterised by arrangements to house and care for them. She urged all Rwandans to come together and address the plight of the needy aged widows in communities.

“The theme during this commemoration calls us to help the widows live as we do...we shall leave no stone unturned to help them live meaningful lives. We are pre-occupied with this as we remember those who perished during the genocide,” she said.

Among the aged needy widows is Ancille Nyirampunga, a charming 102 years old. She told The New Times that at her age she never feared death but dying.

“Let me tell you sons and daughters of Rwanda...a person at my age doesn’t fear death but the process of dying. You know it is the process of leaving this world that bothers me only. I have lived in this country, witnessed all evils orchestrated by despotic regimes against the Tutsi, and enough is enough,” she said.

Nyirampunga is one of the more than 500 aged needy genocide widows in the country.

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