This story contains references to domestic violence that some readers may find upsetting.
‘The genocide happened here in this village,’ says Télesphore from Gisagara district in southern Rwanda.
‘People were killed. Others fled and told of what happened. I was one of the people sent to prison – they kept us there to find out who was involved. I was jailed in July 1994, right after the genocide. But I was found not guilty and released in 2003.
‘When I came home, I knew that my wife had committed adultery because she had a daughter while I was in prison. Our relationship was not good. We often got drunk – both of us. I would call her a prostitute.’
There was hurt and frustration for Télesphore’s wife, Primitive, too. ‘My husband is older than me,’ says Primitive, ‘So I am meant to be humble. He controlled all our money. I was not even a signatory on our bank account. I had livestock when Télesphore was in prison. But when he came out he took all of it.’
Moving on from the genocide
Over the last two decades, Rwanda has made significant progress to recover from the devastation of 1994 – last year marked the 25th anniversary of the genocide against the Tutsi people. Stable governance since has helped the country greatly. But more than a third of people – such as Télesphore and his family – still live below the poverty line.
Tearfund partner Association Mwana Ukundwa (AMU), meaning ‘beloved child’, believes everyone should be given opportunities to reach their God-given potential. AMU works alongside individuals and families to improve their harvests and income. They do this by helping communities work together and form self-help groups.
These are small scale community savings schemes which also offer broader mutual support to members. They allow the poorest people in communities to save together and access low-interest loans from these savings, which they can spend on fertilisers or use to start up small businesses.