When the Government opened Iwawa Rehabilitation and Vocational Skills Development Centre (IRVSDC) in February, last year, where the initial beneficiaries were former street children, critics pounced to smear the otherwise noble initiative, calling it a prison and all sorts of names.
Sections of the international media twisted the hugely inspiring story of Iwawa, alleging that teenagers had been ferried to the Lake Kivu Island against their will, and without the knowledge of their relatives. Fortunately, the architects of IRVSDC did not waver in their cause.
Instead, the Government continued to upgrade the training centre, equipping it with modern training infrastructure and providing training personnel, for effective delivery of special vocational skills. Today, the Iwawa students are an empowered and skilled work force.
Their relatives and guardians, last week, recounted moving stories about these rehabilitated youths. Many of them have called their relatives back home to apologize for their past misdemeanors.
The future, indeed, looks brighter for these youth, who had pretty much lost hope. The Government is laying mechanisms to ensure that they get employed upon completion of their studies. It is heartening that various industrial stakeholders have committed themselves to helping these youth put their newly acquired skills to good use.
From a terribly dangerous street life, these youths are on the verge of becoming highly resourceful professionals in commercial farming, construction, carpentry, tailoring, to mention but a few.
Their story embodies the great strides Rwanda has taken, against all odds, for the past 17 years.