With the ongoing campaign to establish rehabilitation centers in all parts of the country, former drug addict Luckyman Musana explains how rehab gave him a second chance in life.
“I was raised in Gitagata orphanage in Muhanga District, although I was told that they got me from Kicukiro District where my parents abandoned me. The orphanage offered everything and they even took the initiative of taking me to school but when I turned 14, I ran away because I wanted to be free,”Luckyman narrates.
The orphanage being the only place he knew, he was forced to live on the streets where he indulged in drugs such as cannabis.
“I started smoking cigarettes at a tender age and every time we got a chance to get out of the orphanage, I would sneak a cigarette in. I constantly stole money from our caretakers to buy the cigarettes. However they had no idea that I smoked considering I did it with the utmost discretion,” Luckyman recalls.
“On reaching the streets of Kigali, I befriended other street children who introduced me to smoking marijuana. We had to pickpocket or steal people’s property so that we could be able to raise money to buy marijuana. It was sold in small quantities called ‘bule’ or ‘eigiga’ that cost Rwf100. The larger quantity which cost Rwf200 was called ‘Degiga’,” he says.
He also adds that he would smoke two degigas which he rolled in two portions each the size of a fountain pen. He would then sleep on the streets and take a shower in public toilets or any place with a water drainage system.
“Every time I smoked the two degigas I became sexually aroused and would start luring women into sleeping with me. I even went as far as paying them. Funny enough in a sober state I would shy away every time a woman so much as looked at me. I did all sorts of unimaginable things during my street life. Things I’m not proud of today,” Luckyman expresses.
He adds that protection wasn’t an option because he was always too high to care about wearing a condom.
“If a sex worker proposed the use of condom, I would end up being beating her up. Marijuana gave me the feeling that I was so strong and that everyone had to follow my orders. I would even steal from people in bars or the ones I found on the streets at night. But when sober it would be hard for me to do all this stuff,” he discloses.
In 2009, Luckyman was taken off the streets in a campaign focused on evacuating the youth from the streets of Kigali. The Ministry of Youth at the time wanted the youth to lead a meaningful life and thus opted for a rehabilitation center.
Luckyman was first taken to Gikondo youth center where his case was analyzed and then taken to Iwawa Vocational and Rehabilitation Center.
“At Gikondo we had to sign a letter of consent which took me ages to do. But after reflecting on the kind of life I was living on the streets I thought of taking on the proposal in front of me. The marijuana I had sneaked in was finished before we were taken to Iwawa. The first weeks at Iwawa were one of the most trying days in my whole life,” Luckyman explains.
He also discloses that at first it was the police monitoring them but when the boys became rebellious and unruly, the army was deployed at the island.
“The first months of rehabilitation consisted of training in different vocational skills. I was given a second chance in life during that time. Quitting both cigarettes and marijuana is something I never thought was possible but I’m grateful for the trainers at Iwawa for making it happen for me since it was the drugs that made me steal and indulge in various misdemeanors,” he expresses.
He was trained in tailoring and acquired a certificate. He is currently pursuing carpentry while he waits for the tailoring center to be opened up at Kicukiro District as proposed by the District.
“I’m happy to have a place I call home and lucky to be a part of building the nation. I have to plan ahead for a bright future. I even composed a few songs denouncing drug abuse. My most famous song while at Iwawa was ‘Ganja’. It denounces the youth’s use of drugs thinking it will solve their problems or thinking that one has to take drugs to be a great artist,” Luckyman explains.
In his plea to the youth out there who smoke marijuana, cigarettes and consume alcohol, he says: “Drugs make you do the worst things in life. Under the influence you are powerless to avoid evils like stealing, killing and sexual abuse. I want to set an example for the youth. Drug abuse is dangerous and it will affect your life and future.”
He also advises parents who have their children abusing drugs to take them for rehabilitation since it’s the most effective method used to fight it.
Dish: - Chips and Beef
Music: - R’n’B
Artist: - Tom Close
Color: - Black and White
Quote: - ‘ Saying I’m sorry’