Jean Diode Twahiirwa dropped out of school because his father was not “supportive enough.”
“He made it clear to me that I had to strike a balance between grazing his animals and going to school, so many times I found myself spending one week looking after cattle and the other at school,” Twahiirwa says.
Whenever he insisted on making school priority, Twahiirwa said, his threatened to cut off provision of scholastic materials such as books, pens and uniform.
This is when he lost morale and quit school and his father’s house too, hitting the street.
“I got introduced to being idle, sleeping hungry and begging,” he says.
Till he learnt from a fellow street kid about a free six-month vocational course that targets school drop outs and former sex workers, offered at Musanze District Anglican Church Youth Centre, when his colleague suggested they join, he did not hesitate.
Twahiirwa is now among the 30 students at the institution that was started and is funded by Society for FamilyHealth (SFH ).
Today, once in a while, he gets hired at local barbershop where he earns at least Rwf3,000 daily.
He is able to save some since he has reconciled with his father and lives in the family home.
He hopes to open up his own barber shop after the course.
“I have also so far helped two more former street children join this institution.” Twahiirwa says.
“Males are taught all types of barbershop skills and females hairdressing, and pedicure and manicure for both gender,” says JanvierManiraguha, one of their tutors
According to James Biryingiro, the SFH Southern region team leader, sector officials are used to carry out the recruiting process for school dropouts since they usually know those who are most vulnerable.
He said they do not only stop at giving life skills, but also sensitise the young learners on HIV/Aids treatment and prevention.
“We also offer free voluntary counseling testing (VCT) services at the centre,” he said.
With funding from USAID, Biryingiroadds that SFH is able to facilitate the centre with training equipment and wages to tutors.
“Our core mission as social marketers is to help improve the welfare of the masses, then the other things follow.”
He shares that they follow up the graduates to see if they get jobs.
“We are glad that most of last year’s graduates found jobs not only in Musanze but also neighboring districts,” Biryingiro said, adding that plans are underway to help those who graduated from co-operatives, so SFH can extend start-up capital to them.
Biryingiro said there are plans turn to the beneficiaries of the project into future Society for Family Health ambassadors by employing them as product marketers.Follow https://twitter.com/@IvanNgoboka