KIVU - With less than a month to graduation, former street children who spent a year at the Youth Rehabilitation and Vocational Skills Development Centre, located on the Lake Kivu island of Iwawa look forward to starting new and productive lives.
Emmanuel Musabyimana, who is among the graduands, said that people should visit the centre to understand how much it transforms lives.
“We are like students. The kind of life we are living is different from what we led while on the streets. I have completely changed even in the way I think. I’m out of the dangerous street life,” Musabyimana said.
He added that he now sees a bright future, thanks to the skills he attained in commercial farming, construction, carpentry and tailoring while at the centre.
“What we have set our eyes on at the moment is to build our nation, restore the relationships with our families and seek forgiveness,” Musabyimana said.
“We don’t want to be identified with street life anymore.”
The centre, which was set up in February last year, will hold its inaugural graduation ceremony for more than 1,000 students, later this month.
According to Nicolas Niyongabo, the coordinator of the centre, there are 1,659 students and 590 of them graduate at a later date.
“We offer three kinds of training; Civic Education, technical trainings and formal education to those who have never gone to school. Some of the youth didn’t know how to read and write,” Niyogabo explained
He added that besides the 590 who are in the rehabilitation phase, 143 students are involved in Carpentry while 146 are trained in tailoring and 206 in bee keeping.
The students in commercial farming are 219 and 355 are involved in construction.
Fidel Nshimiyimana whose parents are in Cyangugu, Nyamasheke District, was a Kigali street child before joining the centre.
He said that after graduation he will go back home.
“Someone tricked me into leaving School in Cyangugu. I was told there are jobs in Kigali that paid a lot of money. I escaped from home and ended up on the streets,” Nshimiyimana said, adding that he looks forward to applying his newly learned skills.
“The director of the centre gives us his phone and we talk to our parents. I promised them that I will never go back on the street,” Nshimiyimana said.
“After I graduate, I will go back to Cyangugu and start a bee keeping project using the skills I have obtained and even get back into school.”