Iwawa Changed Me from Drug Addict to Masonry
GerÃ´meTwahirwa18 was in January 2014 attending a science lecture in GS APAPE Gikondo secondary school in Kigali when he felt he needed to smoke cannabis.
He stood up and told his teacher that he could not continue with the lecture and walked out.
A week later it was reported that Twahirwa had been arrested.
Â â€œPolice arrested me after stealing a laptop from a neighbour and walking out while smoking cannabis,â€ Twahirwa said he had been addicted to drugs and alcohol which always drew him into theft.
Police did not hand Twahirwa to prosecution but introduced him to a youth rehabilitation center (IWAWA) under the Ministry of youth.
The center is established at Iwawa Island in the middle of Lake Kivu to positively transform lives of drug addicts and other criminals. Wawa is also a training and reflection center where change is irresistible.
The center conducts a six-month rehabilitation program where every participant attends several sessions administered by a psychologist. Youth are presented with various careers to choose from and pursue their dreams.
Candidates choose among; Carpentry, tailoring, masonry, modern farming, and driving as some of the skills taught at Iwawa including civic education.
Twahirwa chose masonry and graduated on Friday 21st among 814 youths and has greater ambition.
â€œI will return to school and study until I become a construction engineer,â€ he says.
About 7,500 youth graduated before Twahirwa, and have started new lives. Government gives them tool kits to start a business in their chosen careers.
With a slogan, â€˜A very bright futureâ€™â€, Marcel Sikubwaho who graduated in 2012 has become mechanic in his hometown, Huye district; Southern Province. He repairs and washes cars earning Rwf5, 000 (about $7) a day.
â€œIwawa has changed me. I used to spend all my money on alcohol, and the following day I often would not show up for workâ€, says Sikubwabo.
President Paul Kagame recently told youth at Gabiro combat training camp that Iwawa is one of the important programs his government is implementing to help former drug addicts become positive people.
While presiding over the Iwawa graduation on Friday August 21, Minister of Youth and ICT, Jean Philbert Nsengimana requested parents to show affection to their children at the center because it contributes to their transformation.
â€œIn many instances, we have realized that youth turn to drugs following tough circumstances in families. Visiting them at Iwawa would create a positive mindset amongst them,â€ He said.