In February of 2006, photojournalist Jonathan Torgovnik traveled to East Africa with then Newsweek health editor Geoffrey Cowley to report on a story for Newsweek Magazine about the 25th year anniversary of the inception of HIV/AIDS.
While in Rwanda, Jonathan heard the testimony of Margaret, a survivor who was raped during the genocide and as a result of the rape had a child and contracted HIV/AIDS.
While there, he began feeling incredible parallels between the Holocaust in which his grandfather was murdered and the Rwandan genocide. Later that year, Jonathan decided to return to Rwanda on his own accord to work on a personal project about women who were raped during the genocide and had a child as a result.
He returned with Jules Shell to find that there are an estimated 20,000 children who were born as a result of sexual crimes during the genocide. The mothers of these children -- many of whom contracted the HIV/AIDS virus -- had largely been shunned by their communities and their few surviving relatives due to the stigma of rape and "having a child of a militia." Many of the mothers expressed the desire for their children to have a brighter future but are unable to provide for their education. Forced into poverty, they are unable to pay the annual $350 for their children to attend secondary school. Foundation Rwanda was fiscally sponsored in 2007 and officially got 501c3 status, July, 2008. As of 2015, Foundation Rwanda is an official program of Survivors Fund (SURF).
SURF has worked with Foundation Rwanda in a formal capacity since we began to roll out educational support to the first 150 second generation survivors born to women survivors raped during the genocide in 2009. That number has now expanded to 850 students that have accessed education thanks to the support of Foundation Rwanda. SURF manages the team and local partners in Rwanda to ensure the students receive the assistance that they require for their education, as well as delivering supplementary support - financial literacy and trauma counseling to the families. The program aims to ensure each student enrolled can graduate secondary school or access vocation training and is set for completion in 2019 contingent upon funding. For further information, contact Sam at firstname.lastname@example.org.