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Esperance brings hope to women survivors of Rwanda genocide

Esperance Nyirahabiyambere lived through the horrors of the Rwanda genocide when she was just a teenager. Twenty years later she plays a pivotal role in re-building her country, helping women survivors provide income for their families.

Esperance Nyirahabiyambere lived through the horrors of the Rwanda genocide when she was just a teenager. Twenty years later she plays a pivotal role in re-building her country, helping women survivors provide income for their families.Read more at http://www.actionaid.org.uk/she-can#U2ifHj5vSK14Eyjz.99

In 1994 she watched her father, a Hutu, protect her mother, a Tutsi, from the mass killings that took place in their village in Gitesi, western Rwanda.

“I was in year three in secondary school. There were more than 30 members in my mother’s family. Only my mother survived,” Esperance recalls.

In Gitesi, memories of the genocide are still raw. Like the rest of Rwanda, the area was devastated by the tragedy. Esperance's neighbours were raped and tortured. Many saw their children and families killed in front of them.

But Esperance is an inspiration and has found a way in which She CAN help others move forwards. In 2007, she set up a cooperative to unite women and help them develop new skills, improve their incomes and support peace and reconciliation.

“I wanted to bring this special group of women together because we have common problems. We all have to provide for our families,” she explains.

The cooperative specifically helps single mothers to build solidarity. Many of the 53 members are genocide widows. The women work together growing vegetables and farming crops to feed their families.

ActionAid supports the cooperative with small loans, equipment and training in agriculture, business, and leadership. During the day, women can focus on work while their young children are cared for at a pre-school in Gitesi, also funded by ActionAid.