The Counselling and Legal Helpline project was set up by AERG in partnership with SURF, as a result of the increasing need for young survivors to seek legal advice and counselling support. When needing support and guidance students would travel many hours and struggle to find money for transport to visit the AERG head office. When arriving at the office, staff members and volunteers would deal with the enquiry as best as possible but often feel they do not have the necessary skills to deal with complex issues related to trauma and legal issues. Students would often make the trip when their situation had reached crisis point rather than accessing support earlier on.
A legal and counselling telephone helpline was set up to support all AERG members countrywide, ensuring that trained counsellors and legal advisors are ready to take their call and offer support. The dual focus of counselling and legal was made in acknowledgement that many students face legal issues that have a link to trauma or vice versa.
As the first helpline of its kind established in the country, it is a ground breaking project that is enabling young survivors to access what they need most in times of crisis – someone to talk to about their challenges, from wherever they are in the country.
III. Key Objective
To ensure that AERG members have access to a confidential service that offers advice, support and guidance for trauma related and legal issues brought about as a result of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda. The project in order to reach to its purpose has elaborated the following specific objectives:
- To provide assistance in terms of legal and psychological problem
- To make advocacy for the legal challenges raised by beneficiaries from countrywide
- To make awareness to the beneficiaries for their basic legal rights
- To overcome the trauma problems among AERG members through helpline project.
- Main Beneficiaries
The helpline provides support primarily to young genocide survivors currently in Secondary school, high learning institutions and University, who have challenges related to legal issues or mental health. This often extends beyond just AERG members. The average age of callers is between 20-27 years old, with a slight majority being those currently in University. However there are a few number of genocide survivors called based on the information received trough radio advert, outreach visit, Social media used by AERG( Facebook, twitter, GREENLIGHT Magazine), or coming from their relatives (AERG Members).
A short film about the AERG Legal and Trauma Counselling Helpline, a project set up with support from Survivors Fund (SURF) and INSPIRE!Africa in 2013, which has grown from a small pilot telephone-based service to an innovative, all-encompassing legal and counselling support service filling a necessary gap in support for vulnerable young survivors with outstanding legal disputes or suffering from trauma