By Ange de la Victoire DUSABEMUNGU
The Rwanda Interfaith Council on Health (RICH) and OXFAM Rwanda have held the closing out event for the project entitled “Claiming Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights in Rwanda”.
Financed by the Scottish Government through Oxfam, the project has been implemented in six districts since 2017.
At the Close Out event which took place in Kigali on 9th February 2022, various agencies praised the achievements of this project adding that the project achievements should be preserved to benefit others.
Speaking at the event His Eminence Cardinal Antoine Kambanda, the Chairperson of RICH said that the project started in August 2017 where the Rwanda Interfaith Council on Health together with Oxfam pledged to join forces in combating sexual violence as one of the most pressing issues in Rwandan society.
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The project was implemented in six districts namely: Muhanga, Huye, Ruhango, Kamonyi, Nyabihu and Rubavu District.
Cardinal Kambanda said “The project we are completing had three main objectives: Behaviour Change on gender and sexual violence, capacity building through collaboration with the Isange One Stop community and Christians and to empower victims and help them in the process of recovery.”
According to the statistics, as seen in the joint document released at the event, within 4 years and a half, the project has brought together 1,000 GBV victims in support groups where they were able to draw strength from one another.
Through the Economic support, the project helped 377 girls that had dropped out of school in facing the future with resilience.
The same document shows that during the project implementation period 995 conflicting couples have been engaged in constructive dialogues to rebuild healthy relationships while over 300,000 people were reached with GBV messages through awareness campaigns and community meetings and many more through media and religious channels at both national and local level.
It was also revealed that through trainings, 144 Isange One Stop Centres staff acquired additional skills and knowledge on psychosocial support for victims and multidisciplinary care for victims of GBV while 247 hospital staff were also provided with onsite coaching and mentorship on collecting and preserving forensic evidence and writing medico-legal reports on which prosecutors base to bring justice to victims of GBV.
“Achievements are obvious as highlighted in numbers and testimonies of beneficiaries. In order to achieve this, there was effective collaboration with various agencies, especially the six districts in which the project has been carried out. “Cardinal Kambanda said.
The project’s achievements have also impressed Oxfam as a partner where it has been pointed out that due to the way the project has been implemented with transparency and tangible outcomes there will be advocacy so that it can be extended to other districts of the country.
According to Immaculee Mukampabuka, Oxfam Country Director, “Through the project, we wanted to work together, especially with women and girls who have been affected by sexual violence to enable them recover and refocus on the socio-economic development.”
She emphasised that partnering with the Rwanda Interfaith Council on Health (RICH) was a big support and blessing.
“It is a blessing to us as Oxfam to be celebrating with you as the Interfaith Council for the achievements we have made together.” Ms. Mukampabuka added.
During the panel discussions moderated by Gatete Jean Marie Vianey, the Secretary General of RICH, representatives from various institutions including Huye District, Kabgayi Hospital, Church Representative and the Rwanda Investigation Bureau, highlighted the importance of the concluded projects either on societal level as well as on judicial level.
However, Dr. Murangira Thierry, the spokesperson of Rwanda Investigation Bureau noted that there are still a big number of cases of children who are sexually abused in the community and reporting such cases is still an issue of concern.
“There are still a big number of cases of sexual violence and the perpetrators are still being hiden, especially when the violence was committed by a family member. Hiding such crimes should stop and the perpetrators should be reported to face justice.” Dr. Murangira said.
In her remarks, the Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, Prof. Bayisenge Jeannette commended the achievements of the project implemented by RICH and Oxfam Rwanda for the close partnership in fighting Gender based violence (GBV) in the intention of building a safe and resilient family.
She also requested district leaders in which the project was implemented to use the trained focal persons in fighting GBV with more focus on prevention and also inform the victims where they can get quick services at district hospitals at Isange One Spot Center at no cost.
Prof. Bayisenge added that the achievements of the project should not end there but should also help in other activities aimed at eradicating sexual violence.
“For instance, these girls who have been empowered, the gains should not end up with the project,” she said.
“In Capacity building, the way they are trained, this knowledge should be used to train others. This is what we urge all other stakeholders to do in a way that the knowledge they transfer continues to be useful even after the projects.” Minister Bayisenge added.