It was all fun at Iwawa Island in Rutsiro District on Tuesday, January 25, as Iwawa Rehabilitation Centre (IRS) team faced Interforce FC in a friendly football match organized by Rwanda National Police (RNP) to raise awareness against lawlessness and drug abuse in particular.
Despite losing the match 4-2, it was all joy for the over 1585 young people currently undergoing rehabilitation at the centre, the vast majority for drugs, who have found an alternative to good and healthy life through sports and vocational training programmes.
Why addressing the youth, CP Bruce Munyambo, the commissioner for Community Policing in RNP, urged them to stay focused to the health and skills development programmes offered at the rehabilitation centre to live a positive life away from drugs and other criminal practices.
Iwawa isolated at the island in Lake Kivu, is one of the three national rehabilitation centres in the country.
It was established by the Government of Rwanda in 2010 with a mandate to rehabilitate delinquents of over 18 years old, who exhibit deviant behaviours.
Since then, the centre has graduated more than 27,000 former drug addicts, who were reintegrated into communities.
The nine-month rehabilitation programme offers pyscho-social health, education and TVET services to treat and transform the addicts into skillful people ready to start income generating activities when reintegrated into their communities.
“You have a chance to change your lives here, take this advantage. Draw lessons from the life you lived as addicts and focus on the new path.
Leave the past behind, do not leave here and again engage in abusing or dealing in drugs; leave here as reformed people ready to drive change, to inspire others still involved to stop it and to work with the police and other institutions to fight drugs and other criminal acts,” CP Munyambo told the youth.
He pledged the RNP support to practice what they will learn, when they are reintegrated back into their communities.
Triphose Murekatete, the Mayor for Rutsiro told the youth that the government will continue to monitor their development projects to ensure that they become successful.
She, however, pointed out the responsibility of families in supporting their reformed children not to reunite with their bad past but to follow the new beginning to productive life.
The mayor added that some young people are influenced to leave their homes because of domestic conflicts and they end up indulging in abusing drugs.
The event was also characterized by testimonies from some of the youth, who are undergoing rehabilitation.
“I wasted so many years in drugs and I became an addict. I am happy that Iwawa is giving me a new and meaningful life to take care of my wife and our two children,” said Frank Shema.
TVET courses offered at Iwawa Rehabilitation Centre include carpentry, masonry, tailoring, agriculture, literacy to illiterate youth and motorcycle riding.