Patrick Kayisire was 17 and in secondary school when teenage influence saw him join a group of drug abusers, believing it was the road to stardom.
Kayisire and his peers used to take different drugs such as weed, heroin, and cocaine.
Unfortunately, while in Senior Five, Kayisire and his peers were expelled from school. Alone and depressed, the teenager only upped his drug game, ostensibly to forget his problems.
Kayisire was ‘wasted’ and most of his family members lost confidence in him.
“After a few years, I started to meet my former classmates, some already occupied big offices, others owned cars. I was buried in shame when I met them. That’s when I decided to return to school,” said Kayisire.
He returned to school but still he was addicted to drugs. One day, Kayisire was going to buy weed when he met a kid he had known since childhood. The boy asked for some puff.
“While we were smoking, I asked him why he took weed. He said I had been an idol to him, that he liked the way I behaved and decided to take it like I did,” said Kayisire.
Kasirye felt a pung of guilt at this. He decided to abandon drugs and be a role model for the better.
After secondary studies, he joined technical school, studying civil engineering with support from the Workforce Development Authority (WDA).
He then got a job but could not forget the kid who asked him for a puff and confidently declared him a role model.
That remorse made him take the decision of sharing his testimony, especially among the youth, demonstrating how far he had reached with drug abuse, and how far he is now after abandoning it.
Now 38, Kayisire is one of the former drug abusers who formed an association to campaign against drugs among youth.
He shared his testimony at anti drugs campaign in Nyamirambo, Kigali last week.
The State Minister for Public Health and Primary Healthcare, Dr Patrick Ndimubanzi, urged the youth to prevent and stop drug abuse. He urged those battling consequences from drugs like addiction to seek medical help.
Emmanuel Butera, the Commissioner for Operations and Public Order in Rwanda National Police, urged the public to expose the black market for drugs.
“People know where drugs are sold or sneaked into the country but they don’t want to reveal it to the leaders or security agents simply to avoid conflicts with drug traffickers. When you still think like this, beware you’re destroying citizens and the development of the nation,” Butera said.
A 2013 survey by the Ministry of Health about drug abuse in school shows that 53 per cent of youngsters aged between 14 and 35 have used at least one or more drugs.
The age bracket for youth has since been revised to between 15 and 30.