In the lead-up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London on 19-20 April, Her Majesty the Queen – as Head of the Commonwealth – is thanking inspirational volunteers across the 53 Commonwealth nations for the difference they are making in their communities and beyond.

It is within this framework, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has today, on 10th April recognized Mary Balikungeri, of Rwanda as the 49th Commonwealth Point of Light in honour of her exceptional voluntary service supporting thousands of victims of gender-based violence.

Mary Balikungeri is the director and founder of ‘Rwanda Women’s Network’. In the exclusive interview with Express News Rwanda said:” We are an organization dedicated to promoting and enhancing capacity of Rwandan Women and their families in order to meet their basic needs.”

Balikungeri who is the Rwandan activist for the rights of women and girls, particularly those affected by war and conflict, her network is dedicated to improving the welfare and rehabilitation of women in Rwanda, working with over 52 grassroots associations across 13 districts of the country to support 4,000 women.

After a praiseworthy recognition from her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Mary balikungeri expressed her gratitude.
She said: “Highly honoured, and for me, this award simply tells me that the work I do is of great value to the many Rwandans I serve. Highly appreciate many who have travelled with me on this journey with a special mention to my government for an enabling environment we enjoy till today.”

She added the network’s plan is to continue serving their beneficiaries and expanding their outreach as well.

Rwanda women Network supports the psychological, social and medical needs of 500+ female survivors of sexual violence each week.

The RWN is the recipient of two international awards, namely, the 2007 UN-Habitat Dubai International Award in “recognition of best practices to improve the living environment” for child-headed households and genocide widows and their families. The second award is the 2006 UNDP/UNAIDS Red Ribbon Award themed “Celebrating Community Leadership and Action on Aids”.

To date, RWN’s target group includes: survivors of the 1994 Tutsi genocide, victims and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), as well as other vulnerable groups including poor and vulnerable women, children and people living with HIV/Aid

The Express News


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