Ex-combatants benefit from JICA programme

ODETTE Ntawukuliryayo, an ex-combatant, and member of the Duterurane cooperative, only recently completed her studies at the Nyanza Vocational Training Centre, a centre which trains both ex-combatants and people with disabilities in skills that enable them to earn income.

ODETTE Ntawukuliryayo, an ex-combatant, and member of the Duterurane cooperative, only recently completed her studies at the Nyanza Vocational Training Centre, a centre which trains both ex-combatants and people with disabilities in skills that enable them to earn income.

Ntawukuliryayo formed the cooperative along with other ex-combatants.

 “We sew clothes, apply dye to them to make them beautiful and then sell them. We were given a starter kit by JICA (Japan International Corporation Agency) including a tailoring machine and dye and since then we have been able to take care of our families from the income we make. The skills I attained have given me hope and changed my life from just sitting at home, to being productive and generating income.”

Her counterpart, Mbariste Ndajijimana, is now a professional welder operating in Shangasha Sector, Gicumbi District, and has had several contracts with neighbouring schools to repair roofs and furniture.

“After graduating from vocational school, I was given welding equipment and machines by JICA. I realised that there was stiff competition within the city centre so I decided to go deeper into the villages. Many schools used my services there,” Ndajijimana narrates.

Ndajijimana and Ntawukulidyayo are among the 250 ex-combatants that graduated last year from eight vocational training centres countrywide that are funded and run by JICA and the Rwanda Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission (RDRC).

The centres offer free training in welding, plumbing, tailoring, cooking, electronics, computer and agriculture.

The Chairman of RDRC, Jean Sayinzoga, welcomed the support JICA offers to the reintegration of ex-combatants, adding that Government’s effort to empower ex-soldiers began as early as 1997 and has seen over 70,000 ex-soldiers successfully reintegrate into civilian life.

“Soldiers released from military service and the disabled must be empowered with knowledge to enable them survive and be productive in society. This is what we focus on and are glad to have organisations like JICA supporting us,” Sayinzoga stated.

Maho Harada, JICA’s expert for the Ex-combatants and other People with Disabilities Project, said that the centres initially did not have enough medical staff but that was solved by initiating at least two doctors at every training centre.

“In all the projects, we ensure that the ex-combatants receive medical screening so that we understand the needs of each trainee. This year, we are optimistic that the programme will be more prosperous because the doctors are readily available,” she mentioned.

JICA has set aside about US$2million to finance the programme for three years from 2011 to 2014. Over 300 ex-combatants and people with disabilities are currently undertaking training under the programme.

ivan.mugisha@newtimes.co.rw

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