Rwandan returnees aspire a bright future after completing vocational skills training

Rwandan returnees aspire a bright future after completing vocational skills training

Jérémie Havugimana, 28, from Rusizi District, repatriated with his family from DR Congo in 2010. His family has been earning its survival from government support for vulnerable people.  Havugimana, at his young age, has been regretting that he has no income generating job to support his family.

His hope was rejuvenated when he received business start-up kits after completing a six-month skills training in shoe making.

“I am now going to be self-employed and self-reliant. I will not be asking for support from government, such support could go to others who need it,” proudly said Huvugimana.

“The skills I have acquired in shoemaking will enable me to make leather shoes that I can sell at 20, 000 rwf, a pair.”

Havugimana shares his hope with Nyiransengimana Consolee who also completed skills training in Wielding.

“Previously, I couldn’t even earn 5000 Rwf per month. But today I have enough opportunities to make money. I can make doors, windows, cooking stoves, and I frequently get jobs at construction sites to make metallic roofs for decent houses.” Testified Nyiransengimana

Havugimana and Nyiransengimana were among 782 people comprising mostly returnees and some vulnerable residents, who graduated and received business start-up kits in a ceremony held in Karongi District on June 26, 2015 after completing a six-month hands-on skills training. The beneficiaries graduated in various fields including tailoring (386), mechanics (36), welding (117), hairdressing (77), knitting (18) and shoemaking and photography (21).

The vocational training was one component of the Sustainable Return and Reintegration Program jointly implemented by the Government of Rwanda and One-UN with the International Organization for migration (IOM) as a direct implementing partner for vocational skills training

Minister Mukantabana seraphine, with other officials including IOM chief of mission and Governor of Western Province, exploring products made by beneficiaries. 

At the occasion of handing over certificates and business t start-up kits, Minister of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs, Mukantabana Seraphine reiterated the commitment of the government of Rwanda to facilitate repatriation of Rwanda refugees and support their reintegration.

The repatriation and reintegration of Rwandan refugees’ remains among the top priorities of the government of Rwanda. We are committed to facilitate repatriation of Rwandans still in exile and will continue to invest required means to reintegrate all returnees” stressed Minister Mukantabana.

Minister Mukantabana Seraphine, Governor Mukandasira Cartas, with, Azam Saber(UNHCR), Catherine Northing(IOM) hand over equipment to beneficiaries

The Chief of Mission of the International Organization for Migration (Rwanda), Catherine Northing, said this organization will continue to support the government of Rwanda to create opportunities to enhance economic reintegration of vulnerable returnees

 “It is an exciting opportunity for the beneficiaries because it supports them to become economically independent,” Northing said.

For the last two years, the Sustainable return and reintegration Project covered 10 districts namely: Rubavu, Nyabihu, Rutsiro, Karongi, Nyamasheke, Rusizi, Ngororero, Bugesera, Nyamagabe and Musanze.


In addition to vocational skills training, this project, also assist returnees and other vulnerable people in other aspects such as shelter, health, education, agriculture and in good governance.

Returnees and other beneficiaries dance as sign of hope after completing vocational skills training.


Government extends support to more returnees

June 2014: Minister Mukantabana donating iron sheets to returnees at Cyanika Sector , Nyamagabe Distict

Simon Singirankabo, returned from DRC, East Kasai in August 2013. He had fled the country at a young age in 1994 during the Genocide against Tutsis, thus he owned no properties. Then, when he returned in August 2013, he joined his parents and currently with all his two wives and 11 children live in Rusizi District in Mururu Sector in Gahinga cell,

A year, after his repatriation, Singirankabo enjoys life on the mother land, in spite of several challenges he is still facing to cater for the needs of such a gigantic family. He earns his living from cultivating to neighbors.

Singirankabo prior need is to have a house to accommodate his large family.

“I am physically strong, and I can work to meet the basic needs of my family. I need support to get a house so that I least I can be established” said Simon

“If had a house; my life conditions would improve steadily “he insists

On August 26, 2014 at Mururu Sector, Singirnkabo and other returnees massively responded to the call of the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs to identify returnees and assess their needs for support.

The identification and needs assessment for Rwandan returnees to be assisted in ongoing in five Districts namely Rusizi, Nyamasheke, Karongi, Ngororero and Rutsiro.

This activity implemented through the “Sustainable Return and Reintegration project”, a joint program between the Government of Rwanda and One-UN, officially launched in 2012.

Returnees undergoing a needs assessment exercise at Mururu sector

That program aims at enhancing socio-economic reintegration of returnees by providing support in the areas of shelter, health, education, food security and agriculture, governance and justice.

The first phase of the project has been operational since October 2013 in five Districts including Bugesera, Musanze, Nyabihu, Nyamagabe and Rubavu. One sector in each District was selected as pilot and currently the project is being extended to other sectors within those districts.

During the first phase, 1,113 beneficiaries have been assisted including respectively 577 students who received scholastic materials support, 185 received iron sheets and   481 received live stocks.

Returnees dispel rumors

All returnees commonly agree that the major factor which refrains Rwandans refugees to voluntarily return is “rumors”

“In the bushes, refugees are bombarded with rumors that their relatives in Rwanda have been killed and that anyone who returns is stabbed to death” said Maria Mukankusi, another returnee who attended the needs assessment exercise at Mururu Sector.

Mother of seven Mukankusi repatriated from DRC in 2012. On her way back, she passed through the bloody situations where she was separated with her five children.

“I don’t know if they are still alive. But if I had chance to communicate with my children or others whom I left in exile, I would tell them that we are safe in our mother land, that all information reaching them are baseless rumors” said Mukankusi.

Supporting the same argument, Singirankabo revealed that in exile, they could hardly listen to the news from Radio Rwanda. However, they could hardly believe in positive news about Rwanda, due rumors that have invaded refugee communities.

“We found the contrary of all we had been told. Rwanda is the safest country, no hunger , no discrimination, actually, everyone is free to walk everywhere he can earn his living” testified Singirankabo.

Assurance of government support

The Cessation Clause for Rwandan refugees came into effect on June 30, 2013. Since then more than 7000 Rwandan refugees have voluntarily returned.

The government of Rwanda assures commitment to receive and reintegrate all returnees.

“All Rwandans have total right to live in their country. So the government is ready, to receive and reintegrate all returnees whatever can be their number. That why all necessary mechanisms and programs have been initiated for a smooth repatriation and sustainable reintegration of returnees,” admitted Seraphine Mukantabana, Minister of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs.