Ruanda: Mary V. Balikungeri

What I find of most satisfaction is when I see victims becoming advocates for change.

— Mary V. Balikungeri

Mary V. Balikungeri (51) is the executive director of Rwanda Women's Community Development Network (RWN). The NGO assists widows, victims of sexual violence, people infected with HIV/Aids and orphans. It provides a forum for networking, mobilization, sensitization, training, counseling and material assistance. Thanks to its efforts, more than a thousand women and orphans have rebuilt their lives. The NGO has also helped to build medical clinics, living quarters and training centers.

Mary V. Balikungeri from Rwanda is concerned with the plight of people, especially women affected by war and conflict, in order to rehabilitate them in the community. "Growing up as a refugee in unstable conditions, I was able to experience at first hand the suffering of people affected by the upheavals of war," Mary V. Balikungeri says, hence the creation of Polyclinics of Hope, equipped with a sanitary center, trauma service and counseling. Mary has been active in this work since 1995 when she was involved in the post-war reconstruction of Rwanda. Mary faces difficulty in acquiring material and financial support for RWN. However, many have benefited from Mary’s work. Many suffering from HIV/Aids have received medication for opportunistic diseases. RWN has constructed 150 houses for 750 beneficiaries in Rukara, a medical clinic and a primary school for their children. Some assisted in the rehabilitation of shelter for 50 families and rape victims of the 1994 genocide in Kigali Cty. Some beneficiaries learned trades like tailoring and now earn revenues from their products. RWN has microfinanced women’s associations and groups fostering orphans in five prefectures.

Rwanda Women's Community Development Network Kigali (RWN)