Iwawa Island in the middle of Lake Kivu was once regarded as impregnable. After the government forces were defeated after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, some retreated there.
It was a very strategic place; it was hours away by boat and no one could approach it without being seen. In a military perspective, it was the ideal place for the defeated government army and Interahamwe militia to lick their wounds as they regained strength and reorganized. But not for long.
In one of the less-sung epic battles by the new Rwandan military, the island was stormed and captured and a huge cache of arms that had been air-dropped was discovered and a sinister plot nipped in the bud.
Today, it is serving another purpose and is known as Iwawa Rehabilitation Centre, one of the three such centres that take in delinquent men, most of them youth to try to put their lives back on track. Many are drug addicts, street children or simply, social misfits.
They are given psychological support and have a choice of trades to learn which they can utilize once they graduate. Just a couple of months ago, over 2000 graduated from the centre and over 80 per cent were equipped with a trade.
But there is a catch; few are fully reintegrated in society as revealed during a meeting between National Rehabilitation Services (NRS) and stakeholders, mostly NGOs that work in the sector. It comes quite as a shock that of the over 5,000 who graduated in rehabilitation centres slightly over 400 were the only ones integrated.
NRS has come this far, surely it can do better and see that it did not just make half the journey. The issue of following up on their former wards should be a matter of priority. Otherwise good intentions might come to nought.