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Trócaire providing hope to families in Rwanda left homeless by volcanic aftershocks

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The aftershocks of the Mount Nyiragongo volcanic eruption in Goma, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, left thousands in neighboring Rwanda homeless and without food as houses collapsed and crops were destroyed. Read how Trócaire and its partners are responding to the disaster.

Mvuyekure Kayusu, (39), his wife Pelagie, and their nine children are one of thousands of families in Rubavu, Rwanda, whose lives were devastated following the Mount Nyiragongo volcanic eruption in May. They were forced to live in the rubble of their home without food or shelter.

The volcanic aftershocks that hit Rubavu, a town on the shores of Lake Kivu, 12 kilometres from Goma in North Kiv Province, amplified the serious humanitarian crisis that already gripped the area. Families who rely on farming as their main food source found themselves with nothing to eat with crops destroyed.

“Our entire house collapsed. We had to sleep outdoors in the debris of our home, and we could not find shelter with a host family because we were such a large group,” he explains.

“I spend all my energy looking for food to feed my children, and I am thankful to Trócaire for their assistance. We were given corrugated iron to fix the roof of our house. We could not have repaired the house if Trócaire had not helped us,” Kayusu adds.

Kayusu’s wife, Pelagie, received money which helped them do house repairs and buy food through a mobile money cash transfer programme, something which was a novel experience for her.

“I received the money via MOMO. It was like in a vision. Now I am using the money to purchase food. I bought some maize flour, beans, and Irish potatoes. The remaining money will be used to repair the house,” she adds.

Several water systems in the area were affected by the eruptions, depriving affected communities of water and hygiene services. Kayusu and his family also received sanitary equipment to improve their day-to-day living conditions.

Trócaire, along with other humanitarian agencies and the Government of Rwanda, worked together to deliver emergency assistance to internally displaced Rwandans in Rubavu.

A grant of £200,000 from Start Fund was secured to support those affected. The Start Fund provides rapid financing to respond to small and medium scale crises and to support the most vulnerable community members.

Sauda Mukamusoni, a 64-year-old mother who lives with her two sons, daughter, and one grandchild in a small house in Rubayu was also affected by the volcanic aftershocks.

Sauda cannot work because of ongoing health problems. Before the aftershocks hit she was being supported by her daughter who worked in exchange for food. The family were already struggling to support themselves so when their house was damaged, their situation immediately worsened.

Sauda’s house had cracks everywhere and it was not safe for them to stay. She received a sum of Frw 50,850 (equivalent to €43) through humanitarian supports, and used it to buy a pregnant goat, pay her community-based health insurance and purchase food for her family. She is confident that the goat will help her and her family as soon as offspring are produced.

“The money I will get from selling my goats will help me repair my house step by step,” she explains.

“I thank the government and its partners like Trócaire for the prompt assistance provided to us. In addition to the money we received from them they comforted us,” she concludes

To date 128 families, including Kayusu’s and Sauda’s, have received support with materials to hep rebuild their houses. In addition WASH (Water, Sanitation and Health) facilities were distributed to 1,500 families, and 981 families got cash transfers.

Protection services including GBV (gender-based violence) prevention have been delivered to 2,500.

The crisis on the ground continues and Trócaire and its partners will continue to support those communities in urgent need of humanitarian aid.