Many Rwandans, especially women and children, are extremely traumatised by the genocide of 1994. Amongst other things, Rwandans are in need of psychological, medical and material help. Many women and girls who were raped during the genocide are now infected with HIV: of the women and girls who survived the genocide, about 70% are HIV-positive. Stigmatization is also a serious problem for survivors of sexual violence and those living with HIV/AIDS. Women often refrain from seeking medical treatment following rape for fear of being identified as a rape victim and ostracized, often by their own husbands or family. Many women who were brave enough to testify in court have been threatened by (family members of) alleged perpetrators of the genocide. In addition, women and children who witnessed crimes committed against their loved ones, such as killings, mutilations and torture, experience ongoing traumatization. This is compounded by the loss of property, including their homes.
The physical and emotional trauma, poverty and stigmatisation that afflicts numerous women in Rwanda who have been raped and are HIV-positive as a consequence of the genocide, has made it difficult for women to re-establish their lives and the lives of the children and/or orphans they often care for. Even today, many of these women and girls are still struggling to survive. Many have died as a result of AIDS, despite the fact that persons living with HIV can grow old with the virus with proper treatment and care.
Through our partner Solace Ministries in Rwanda, Mukomeze aims to help these women.