In 2013, Micheal Nshuti, a resident of Runda Sector in Kamonyi District left his parents’ house in pursuit for a new life.
At 18 years and acting under peer pressure, Nshuti defied his parents’ advice and decided to start a new life on his own.
It didn’t take him long to end up on the streets, spending nights in the gutters smoking cannabis and drinking all sorts of illicit brew.
“For three years, I was living in that miserable life. I could end up in fights because I was under influence of drugs and on several occasions I could go days without a meal,” says Nshuti who is now reformed.
He adds that the lifestyle he was living exposed him to many dangers to an extent that he was at loggerheads with security organs.
“I was arrested twice in connection with a drug abuse; the second time, I was in jail for a long time and used it to reflect on my life, the mistakes I had made, how I had betrayed my family that had much hope in me and I decided to be a reformed man when I am released from prison.”
After serving his time in jail, Nshuti decided to join Ubumwe Cooperative in Kamonyi composed of former drug dealers and abusers, and started working as casual laborer.
He also made peace with his family.
Today, he lives with his parents and has managed to buy a bicycle worth Rwf60,000 which he uses to make money as a commercial cyclist.
Together with his colleagues in Ubumwe, Nshuti uses his story to transform other drug dealers and share his bad past as means to prevent the youth from engaging in the vice.
To Emmanuel Tuyisabe, also a member of Ubumwe cooperative, he started doing drugs when he was 22 years old. He is now 30.
Last year, Police arrested Tuyisabe in possession of drugs.
He says as well made him realize how his life had deteriorated and how much he needed to reform.
Upon his release, Tuyisabe also joined Ubumwe Cooperative and helped in transforming drug abusers using the same means as Nshuti.
To date, Ubumwe Cooperative has 65 members, all casual laborers.
Besides their job, they also engage in anti-drug abuse awareness campaigns and work with the District Police Unit of Kamonyi in varied anti-crime programmes.
On May 12, the former drug abusers and dealers held a meeting with Kamonyi District Police Commander, Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) Marcel Kalisa, who thanked them for their contribution in fighting drug abuse.
Members of the cooperative recommitted to intensify their partnership with the police in fighting drugs.