They say that tough times call for hard decisions. When 31-year-old Innocent Habyarimana’s parents died years ago, there was no way he was to live life ‘as usual’. He had to earn a living and look after his two young brothers.
“The harsh conditions forced me to come to Kigali so I could better my life and that of my two brothers,” narrates Habyarimana, who hails from Nyamata in Bugesera district in the Eastern Province.
He says being the oldest child; he had to do whatever it took “so that I could put food put on the table. That’s when I decided to come to the city to try my luck, too”.
Today, he is one of the many wheelbarrow pushers you will meet in Nyabugogo, around the taxi and bus terminal, ferrying goods.
Though life in the city is not easy, with expenses going up daily, Habyarimana manages to save money to pay school fees for his two brothers; Patrick Nshimyimana and Auoti Muhima.
Habyarimana wakes up at 4:00am, cleans up and puts on his blue uniform and heads to his work station at Kiruhura Maize mill in Nyabugogo.
With customers waiting for his services, he begins ferrying goods from the wee hours of the morning until late in the evening.
He charges Rwf1,000 for a 200gk load from Nyabugogo to the city centre. “But the price varies according to volume and distance,” Habyarimana explains.
He says he earns between Rwf8,000 and Rwf12,000 daily. “On a bad day, like when it rains, I will save Rwf4,000,” he says.
“It is from this work (transporting items on a wheelbarrow) that I have managed to support Nshimyimana, who is studying at National University of Rwanda, Huye and also pay fees for Muhima, who is studying at Muvunyipio Institute of Mechanics.”
Habyarimana has also bought a small maize milling machine, which he plans to install in his home town in Nyamata as a side income-generating project. He is confident that once his machine starts operating, it will be a big push towards his goal of becoming a bus driver.
Despite challenges such as stiff competition from unregistered comrades, and high operational fees paid to the Twifatanye Nyabikoni Co-operative, a group of wheelbarrow pushers, Habyarimana earns between Rwf50,000 and Rwf100,000 every month.
He is optimistic that with his job, he will see his brothers through school, construct a house and start a family. He advises unemployed youth not to shun any job.
“The youth should do every kind of job until they get what they want,” he counsels.