The Amazing Power of the Women of Rwanda

Feza and her neighbour

By Raymond Van Neste, CAFOD Volunteer

On the 12th May I went to a talk by CAFOD staff member Roisin Sullens in Hanwell parish about what has been happening in Rwanda since the terrible genocide in 1994.


In 1994, after the assassination of the Rwandan President, over one million people (Tutsi people and Hutu moderates) were deliberately slaughtered within a three month period.    As a result thousands upon thousands of women lost all or some of their families.  Many women were also raped and contracted HIV from their attackers.


CAFOD has been working with the women of Rwanda since 1995 and the founding of its partner there, a widow’s association, called Avega East. 


Roisin spoke about her visit to Rwanda last November when she was able to meet some of the victims of the genocide and see first hand the amazing healing process that has taken place. For example, in a village called Musha, she met women’s leader Feza.   At the time of the violence Feza’s husband was killed and she was infected with HIV.  Nevertheless since this time she has developed hope and forgiveness.   The hope and forgiveness felt among these women was very clear to Roisin.   These women, with the help of Avega, were not victims but had become transformed in their unity, energy and power to take control of their own lives.

This could not have come about without CAFOD’s intervention which is to fund Avega’s work which includes providing the medicines to treat HIV,training women as counsellors and teaching women about legal matters which has enabled them to find the courage to go into the courts in Rwanda and fight their case against the purpotrators of the genocide.    The whole process has taken years and will take more time but with courage and hope everything is possible.

You can find out more about CAFOD’s work in Rwanda by coming to our Supporters Day on 11th September or contact CAFOD Westminster.

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