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RWANDA: Iwawa gives back to society

Former street kids turn to helping vulnerable women

For many people, the mere mention of its Iwawa Island invokes fear and uncertainty. Fear that you have finally been nabbed by law enforcement officers and you do not know your fate and uncertainty for what’s going to become of you when you reach this dreaded place. But to several others, the name Iwawa is now synonymous with hope.

Launched seven years ago by the Ministry of Youth (Mineyouth) at Iwawa Island in Lake Kivu, Iwawa Rehabilitation and Vocational Center has shed off its mythical tag as place where parents banish their delinquent children to make them straight, and idlers, street children and drug peddlers and addicts served time. It is now known as a place that has helped in transforming several delinquents and society misfits into useful members of the society.

According to the Institute of Policy Analysis and Research-Rwanda, The purpose of the Iwawa Rehabilitation and Vocational Training Centre (IRVTC) is to “rehabilitate disaffected and delinquent male youth in a residential setting, provide them with vocational employability skills and on graduation support them in reintegrating into the community as productive citizens.”

Support in getting gainful employment is seen as central to this. The main aim of Iwawa is to provide them with the capability to become productive citizens on graduation from the programme.

Several youths who passed through Iwawa, after undergoing intensive training in vocational disciplines like mechanics, tailoring, agriculture and hairdressing have now integrated into the society, and are full of praise to the training they got.

One such success story is found in Kacyiru suburbs where a group of 20 former Iwawa graduates in 2013 came together and established a cooperative to help them be gainfully employed. They have now even managed to train and employ over 10 vulnerable women in tailoring.

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