Abishyize Hamwe Association

Location: Northern Province (Iraro Village, Mvuzo Cell, Murambi Sector, Rulindo District)

The broader region in which Abashyize Hamwe operates has been seriously affected by the war and the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. The group is situated in an area near Mvuzo Hill, where many Tutsi were exterminated during the 1994 genocide (that same hill now houses the Mvuzo Genocide Memorial). Also in this vicinity is Mugoti Hill, commonly known as Remera ry’Abaforongo, an area where many Tutsi of the Abaforongo clan were killed during the genocide.

This area is also characterized by extreme poverty, much of which stems from the consequences of war and genocide; i.e. the majority of Tutsis were killed while many Hutus who participated in the genocide have been jailed, leaving the population (and its income-generating potential) severely diminished.

After the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi, survivor widows and women whose husbands were in prison for their alleged role in perpetrating genocide were living in a state of apathy. Therefore, Abashyize Hamwe was established on 25th August 2012 with the goal of relieving each other’s suffering and helping one other.

The Association

In August 2012, members of AVEGA (an association of genocide survivor widows) met with local leaders in Mvuzo Cell to discuss their social conditions. Through their meeting, these women exposed the problem they were having of living with a feeling of extreme indifference toward their fellow sisters whose husbands were in jail for their alleged participation in the genocide.

The local leaders appreciated the difficulty these women were experiencing, and decided to invite both groups of women together to allow them to have a sincere exchange. Meeting together allowed these women to understand just how much their mutual apathy and indifference was undermining their progress. They also came to understand that they had all been affected by the consequences of the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi. Following this initial exchange, the women decided to start a solidarity group called Abashyize Hamwe, which they officially launched on the 25th August 2012.

Activities and Achievements

In order to uphold their vision of unifying their families (and their community in general), the women of Abashyize Hamwe have carried out a number of activities, such as:

  • On the last Sunday of every month, all 31 members go to the Mvuzo Genocide Memorial to pay tribute to the victims of the genocide and to contribute to its maintenance by cleaning the site, planting flowers, etc.
  • Following their monthly visit to the memorial, the women meet and discuss different topics that may reinforce their solidarity and cohesion, or any other topic that is proposed by one of the members.
  • The women have established a culture of helping each other, paying visits to one another, and assisting those in need by cultivating their lands. Everyone also saves 500 Rwf every month so that they can rotate giving each other loans to enable income-generating activities.
Abashyize Hamwe has achieved significant results in terms of rebuilding the social fabric of their community and improving their livelihoods, to the point that they now constitute a role model. Their success has also resulted in external support from AVEGA and from the international organization Search for Common Ground
Abashyize Hamwe is a women’s association composed of 11 genocide survivors (who are now widows, having lost their husbands during the genocide) and 20 women whose husbands have been detained for their alleged role in the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi