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One Woman, One House, One Year

Why Nyria? The reason for helping Nyria and not another woman came from the community where she lives in Butare. On our first trip to Rwanda we were introduced to an amazing lady, Josee, a Rwandan psychologist who's been working with women in remote communities for years, trying to ease the burden of the trauma from the genocide. It was Josee who helped us define the project. She raised our question (how can we help?) in one of her counselling groups and the group singled out one woman, Nyria, and her children as the ones in the most need of help. Nyria's story When the killings began she was first captured by a group of men, who were uninterested in killing her but instead took advantage of her sexually. She managed to escape from the group and soon met a man who said he would protect her and took her to his house.

For a moment she thought she was safe, but this man locked her in a room and kept her there for the duration of the genocide, taking advantage of her daily. She described this period by saying it was like “not being a woman, not like being a human being.” After the genocide the man was put to prison for killing many people. He wasn’t charged for rape. The impact of the project The issues many female survivors still face today, 21 years after the genocide, are so complex and intertwined that at first it was difficult to know where to focus our efforts. The stigma caused by rape means that most women are segregated from society in one way or another, some geographically, some by social exclusion, or both. Many of them still struggle to find work, and often do not have family members to support them. Decent housing remains an issue for many vulnerable people in Rwanda, and especially those who survived the genocide. Some, like Nyira, still do not have decent homes, and others, who had houses built for them, face difficulties in paying for repairs such as leaking roofs.


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