Rwanda genocide: Everyone at that meeting never came back - I lost four children

Akimana Euphrasia’s house is bigger and better furnished than the other houses in the village. A small lamp powered by a solar panel provides a dim light in the dusk. Photographs of her family members and friends decorate the walls in the living room.

But Akimana Euphrasia is lonely. In a quite corner outside her house, she explains how her husband left her two decades ago.

"When the Genocide sgainst the Tutsis started, my husband and I hid together with our children. We returned home when the liberating soldiers arrived at our place. We were here in this house when we saw a large number of Habyarimana soldiers came to announce a meeting. They said, that we were no longer at war; there was security.

"My children were still young, so they accompanied others in their same age to that meeting.

None of them came back. Everyone who had attended that meeting never came back. Later we heard they had been beheaded with knifes. I lost four children.

"That day my husband left our home and never returned. He loved his children very much; he could not bear being here any longer without them. He has another wife now and lives in Tumba, a neighbouring village. The couple of years I have lived together with my brothers child, who is HIV/AIDS positive like myself, but he moved out when she started at a secondary boarding school.

Akmana Euphrasia’s voice is fading while she tells the story; it is not easy for her to recall the experiences two decades ago that changed her life forever. Of her fourteen children she lost four on that fatal day after the Genocide against the Tutsis.

How does one move on? I had no choice than to take care of myself.

Through the health centre I got in touch with Abishyizehamwe Coabikigi Coooperative, whose members are HIV/AIDS positive. The cooperation system of paying the fee for the national health insurance Mutuel de Sante for four family members has helped me so much.

ActionAid supports Abishyizehamwe Coabikigi Coooperative and has helped the cooperative with three cows and to introduce commercial mushroom growing, which supplements the women’s diets and provides an income. The cooperative also grow, beans, onions, green peppers, potatoes, soya beans and maize and ActionAid has also supported them with seeds and a grain bank. Abishyizehamwe Coabikigi Coooperative has 15 members who are all HIV/AIDS positive. It is a main priority of Abishyizehamwe Coabikigi Coooperative to ensure the members and three of their family members coverage by Rwanda’s national health insurance Mutuel de Sante.