Rwanda group for genocide victims gets 500k prize

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NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) – An official of an organization started by Rwandan genocide widows to help survivors cope says the group can now expand its reach with a $500,000 cash prize awarded by an American foundation.

Odette Kayirere, an official of AVEGA Agahozo, said Tuesday that the group had started as an association to assist 50 widows in 1995 but has since grown and is now helping 20,000 widows and 71,000 dependents and orphans.

She says the organization helps the women rebuild their lives by overcoming the trauma of rape, losing loved ones and witnessing gruesome killings. It also equips them with skills to generate incomes.

AVEGA Agahozo won this year’s prize on women rights from the Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, a U.S.-based private philanthropic organization.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.