“We come from different backgrounds and have diverse experiences. We didn’t know each other before and the training we got will help us to build our future and participate in the peacebuilding efforts and reconstruction” said Berchmans Manirambona, a 24 year-old beneficiary of the Centre of Technical Teaching within the “Garage des Anges” in Ruyigi, a city located in the eastern Burundi, 170km distance from Bujumbura.
The centre is one of the several initiatives of Maison Shalom that helps disadvantaged youth for diverse reasons to reintegrate socially and economically by giving theorical and practical training in mechanics and motorized technology.
Young people within this centre come from different categories but all share the same status: vulnerability. Some of them are returnees - like Berchimans Manirambona, who spent more than 10 years in Tanzania. Others are IDPs, like Alfred Sibomana, and some 25 other young people without any assistance. However the centre gives priority to former demobilized children, one of the most vulnerable groups in Burundi. Their well-being is important not only to the young people themselves, but also to wider society in Burundi, as groups of marginalized young people have already created insecurity throughout the country.
According to Dieudonné Muryame, in charge of this centre created in 2002, the main goal of the centre is to ensure the socio-economical reintegration of vulnerable young people through technical training in diverse manual skills. The nine-months training consists mostly in auto-mechanics but beneficiaries also learn other courses related to their reintegration in their communities like peace education, HIV and STD’s prevention, family budget, management of associations.
Muryame explained that the centre is over-subscribed because of the huge demand from vulnerable young people who every year want be selected for the training. “We have an average of 200 candidates each year, but due to limited places, we have to keep only 25, giving priority to former demobilized children who are now struggling to reintegrate a normal life”.
Nteranya Joseph, a 33-year-old demobilized former combatant remarked that it is nowadays becoming very hard to survive by practicing only agriculture and small commerce. He added that when a person is well-trained in any manual skills, especially in mechanics, there are many opportunities to earn between $5-10 per day.
As the current group of beneficiaries is ending its programme, young people at the centre have different plans for the future. More ambitious, Berchmans seems to not want to end his training here, “I would like very much to continue by a high-level training in Bujumbura as well as getting a driving license. At this time, I will be a real professional”.
Valérie Niyonzima, the only female at the centre hopes that she will be able to get small jobs here and there in Ruyigi to help her brothers and sisters at home. A little bit shy, she also sent a message of encouragement to ladies and girls to build their self-confidence and dare to practice mechanics even though it is categorised as a male’s job.
All those beneficiaries of the centre share the same consensus. They agree that a well-empowered and educated youth is unlikely to be manipulated by politicians. Bosco added that if you are doing and enjoying your job, you don’t have time to listen to divisive messages of some bad-intentioned politicians.
In Ruyigi, the centre of technical centre is a well-known place where vehicles of government, NGOs and ordinary citizens are being repaired. The clients appreciate the competence of the staff which is made of former beneficiaries of the centre. The rest of graduated beneficiaries of the centre are working in different garages in Ruyigi and other cities and are all expresses their gratitude to “Maggie”, Maggy Barankitse, the founder the centre as well as other many humanitarian and socio-economical initiatives in Ruyigi worldwide known as “Maison Shalom of Ruyigi” which have enabled the reintegration of thousands people in normal life.