The 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi was a devastating event that left many survivors in Rwanda with deep emotional and psychological wounds. Like many working for Handspun Hope, women were often subjected to horrific acts of violence and sexual assault, which have had lasting impacts on their mental health.
It is estimated that between 250,000 and 500,000 women were raped during this period, and many more were witnesses to brutal acts of violence against their family members and communities.
As a result, survivors continue to experience a range of mental health challenges, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and survivor guilt. Many are living with HIV due to an organized rape campaign that was intended to infect them so the killing could continue long after the genocide was over.
Our counseling program has been transformative in helping the ladies process their experiences, manage their symptoms, and improve their overall quality of life. By addressing their mental health needs, they have begun rebuilding their lives.
There is also a strong connection between mental and physical health. Trauma survivors who are struggling with mental health issues may also experience physical symptoms, such as chronic pain or headaches. We have witnessed vast improvements in the physical well-being of survivors after they have been able to process long-held wounds.
Many women working for Handspun Hope lost family members and friends in 1994, which can be a source of deep grief and isolation. Regular counseling has helped them develop coping strategies, improve their relationships with loved ones and is helping to shape the impact of generational trauma.
By addressing their mental health needs and providing them with employment, the women are developing resilience overcoming these challenges, achieving greater social and economic empowerment and a stronger relationship in their faith walk with Jesus.
Our counselors at Handspun Hope are working hard to address barriers and provide mental healthcare to all women, not only survivors. Many women working for the organization were born after 1994 but have been raised by trauma survivors. This is why we feel our holistic approach is so critical to fully empowering our employees.
The 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi is part of their story…but it is not the end of their story. We are committed to continuing the expansion of our counseling program so this much-needed service can reach further into the community.