Thirty-eight former FDLR combatants have completed a six-month training course that saw them acquire various hands-on skills.
The acquired skills, officials say, will help the former combatants better reintegrate in society.
The training took place at Gaculiro Vocational Training Centre (VTC) in Kigali’s Gasabo District, and covered such skill areas as welding, electricity, tailoring and masonry.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony, the Chairperson of Rwanda Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission (RDRC), Jean Sayinzoga, urged the trainees to use the acquired skills in shaping their future and helping build their country.
He said the government was doing its best to empower every Rwandan with relevant skills and encouraged them to work hard.
“You should all commit to making the most of the skills acquired, at an individual level,” he said.
Sayinzoga also called on the former combatants to abandon their past ideological pursuits and promote national unity and development.
The graduates who spoke to The New Times said they were already looking forward to a bright future.
Many said they regretted the years they spent in subversive activities in FDLR ranks and called on their former colleagues and families that remain holed up in the jungles of DR Congo to abandon the militia and the hate ideology it espouses and return home to help build a safer and more developed country.
Jean-Claude Habineza, 34, who trained in welding, said he joined FDLR at the age of 16.
He said that when he returned to Rwanda in 2014, he noticed that the country offered all its citizens immense and equal opportunities to develop themselves and their families.
“I have since bought a plot in Bugesera and intend to put up a house on it by 2018,” he said.
Alphonse Mbonimpa, 45, from Nyarugenge, has a wife and five children. He defected from the FDLR in 2014 after realising that the militia “had no vision”.
“I am grateful to the government because it continues to help us settle in smoothly. I will not waste this opportunity because I want to work hard to develop myself,” Mbonimpa told The New Times.
Each graduate was also given an assortment of basic kits in accordance with their skills to start off their new life.