Ministry to address plight of elderly Genocide widows
The Minister of Sports and Culture, Protais Mitali, has promised to help address the issue of vulnerable elderly widows in the country.
The minister made the pledge on Tuesday when he joined Genocide widows and orphans to mark the end of 100 days of the commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi that claimed over a million lives. The three month commemoration period is held from April 7 to July 3 every year.
Over 2,906 elderly widows in the five provinces of the country need moral and financial support
The minister, who was the chief guest, was responding to a concern raised by the Executive Secretary of AVEGA AGAHOZO, Odette Kayirere, who pointed out that widows aged over 70 years usually lose hope and are unable to look after themselves. The association engages in revitalisation of the lives of Genocide survivors as well as funding of income generating projects during the genocide commemoration period every year.
“We carried out a survey and discovered that over 2,906 elderly widows in the five provinces of the country needed moral and financial support. So far, AVEGA AGAHOZO and other partners have only been able to support 395. The rest of them still need support.”
Kayirere said the Southern Province has 1,762 elderly women who are above the age of 70, the biggest number in the country.
“This is a journey of hope and restoration of our dignity as we commemorate the 100 days of genocide. We all have to join efforts in fighting against divisionism within our community.”
The ceremony was also attended by the First Lady Jeannette Kagame. It was held at the headquarters of AVEGA AGAHOZO Association in Kigali.
During the event, the association members expressed sorrow at the loss of their loved ones as well and celebrated their achievements over the last 18 years since the end of the Genocide.
Speaking during the ceremony, a member of the association, Consolee Murebwayire, narrated her life prior to and after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
“My six children and husband were killed. I survived because one of the militia had said that women would be killed later. I wanted to die too because it was unbearable to live on. I lost hope,” Murebwayire narrated.
Subsequently, she acknowledged the strength and hope the association infused in the lives of those affected.
“Today, we are no longer a problem but we are solutions to several problems in the community. I look after 11 children; I’m involved in several women and government-backed projects. I have become a women activist in my home area of Kirehe District. I’ve become a strong willed woman after undergoing several training programmes courtesy of AVEGA AGAHOZO.”
The association’s greatest challenge is lack of funds to support ageing widows, especially those above 70 years.
Contact email: doreen.umutesi[at]newtimes.co.rw