Youth in Ngoma District have been urged to refrain from drugs and alcohol abuse and recommit themselves to building a strong society.
The call was made by government officials while addressing hundreds of youth at the end of a one-week drive dedicated to combat drug abuse in the district.
During the ceremony to end the anti-drug week, the youth sang and recited poems with anti-drug abuse messages, before witnessing destruction of several litres of illicit alcohol and marijuana impounded by the Police.
The programme that ended over the weekend, saw grassroots leaders, teachers and police sensitise the youth against the vice.
The exercise was organised by Integrated Polytechnic Regional Centre East (IPRC East) with the support of the police and the army.
IPRC East vice principal Habimana Kizito said drug abuse was a serious impendent to national development.
He warned that the youth would be incapable of taking up Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) if they continued to indulge in drugs.
“We have identified vocational training for the youth as a foundation for self-reliance, but they have to refrain from drugs if they are to benefit. You can’t train youth who are subject to mental consequences of drug addiction; it would be fruitless,” he said.
Habimana also disclosed that the school dropouts on streets would benefit from free education offered by the institute.
“We have a special programme for the dropouts and former drug addicts. They will access free vocational training in various fields. Our commitment to help the youth remains,” he said.
Ngoma vice mayor in charge of social affairs Providence Kirenga said most of the drug addicts were school dropouts.
She said drug abuse was a serious problem for Rwandan youth with serious consequences, commending IPRC East for organising the anti-drug campaign to raise awareness on the issue.
“It is sad that young girls and boys in our communities still take marijuana and illicit alcohol locally known as Kanyanga. The campaign against the drugs, therefore, must be taken by every single person in our society,” Kirenga said.
Meanwhile, Assouman Havugarurema, 29, a graduate from Iwawa Rehabilitation and Vocational Skills Development Centre, gave a moving testimony, on how he transformed after 15 years of drug abuse.
“I started smoking marijuana and drinking Kanyanga at 14. I did all sorts of evil. I was hopeless and I don’t think I once thought about my future at all. It was like I existed in space, but 15 years later, I was rescued by Good Samaritan. I trained in construction and I now live a meaningful life,” he told the gathering.