“One Life Matters, Save it and Transform it” – Purpose Rwanda

It means more than any other thing to be a Watchman or a Watchwoman at Purpose Rwanda: empathy, love, consistency, sobriety, reliability, patience, courage, good vision, stewardship, humility, flexibility, hard work, resilience, honesty, positivity, hope, and community development

Purpose Rwanda is working towards ensuring 30,000 delinquents and addiction patients to have been reached, rehabilitated and turned into Purposeful Agents of Transformation between 2022 and 2027. Achieving this target calls for every stakeholders especially citizens and friends of Rwanda to make significant sacrifices and enduring contributions by saving and transforming one or two lives.

Purpose Rwanda intends to rehabilitate over 30,000 people with different addictions in help with various stakeholders

This is a sacred call and our collective response to this call has the potential of changing the lives of over 5,000 delinquent and addiction patients per year.  They will denounce addictions and non-acceptable behaviors in their lives, but they will use their lives more resourcefully especially by participating in poverty eradication and sustainable community transformation.

Reaching out, rehabilitating and turning Purpose Rwanda Beneficiaries into Purposeful Agents of Transformation (PATs)  have significant linkage to the role played by Purpose Rwanda’s  watchmen and watchwomen in overseeing and watching over in fighting addictions: they encourage their peers to refrain from behaviors that have made them become prey to addictions, they lead Addicts Anonymous  (AA) Meetings, they reach out to remote areas and provide information about dangers of addictions and how they can be supported to recover, they contribute in behavior change, they offer counseling services to the recovering patients, lead in prayers, help in building hope about the future after recovery, they play leadership role in their groups, instill some discipline rooted in Purpose Rwanda core values, etc.

Purpose Rwanda Watchmen and women assembling to lay strategies on how to reach out to and save addiction patients and delinquents in their communities.

Purpose Rwanda watchmen and watchwomen receive some basic training in order to perform their day to day activities:

Reaching out and watching over (to enhance recovery) their peers who are facing addiction problems but are willing to recover from addictions require some knowledge, skills and commitment. It further requires some patience and trust that the watchmen/watchwomen have to build among their group members which help them in offering services to them.  This explains why Purpose Rwanda is able to reach out to over 100 patients per week when it comes to service delivery. It’s easier when one of the recovered addiction patients speaks to those who are still struggling than one without similar experience, this strengthens networking.

Addicts Anonymous Meetings that take place every day involving various groups are led by Watchmen/Watchwomen. These meetings are enablers in sharing history of each other’s addiction problems, effects of addictions on self and the family, how to overcome addictions and manage new life. It is during AA Meetings that one feels he/she is not left alone. Group members freely share compelling testimonies and experiences. These help them in evaluating their own lives, hence, motivating them to embrace the importance of transformation.

Watchmen and Watchwomen during Addict anonymous session.

The willingness of the watchmen and watchmen in reaching out to the remote areas helps in taking services closer to those who cannot easily be accessed by Purpose Rwanda Addiction Prevention Strategist team: Counselors, Occupational Therapists and the Media.  Ensuring remote service access in every cell and village in Rwanda will culminate in fighting delinquency and addictions to zero. To achieve this, Purpose Rwanda’s partners are indispensable. Empowering the watchmen/women in performing their critical role marks a milestone in supporting over 5,000 delinquents and addicts per year either to go back to schools, or initiate projects and businesses which are in line with their life purposes. The emphasis is, each PAT should play some valuable role in fighting addictions in the process of providing services to others.

Behavior change is crucial if one is to recover from addictions. One of the values considered in recruiting watchmen/women is to ensure he/she has significantly changed behavior after recovery. Ensuring behavior change in their groups is one of the core roles watchmen/women play. Some of the behaviors are linked to telling lies, deteriorating physical appearance, impulsive behaviors, isolation, and irritability are some of the behavior signs exhibited by addicts that need to be transformed and the victim is helped to recover in order to acquire new and acceptable behaviors typically rooted in hard work, working cooperatively with others in order to achieve a common goal, accepting positive and negative consequences, following directions and expectations, accepting responsibilities among others.

Leadership role is one of the critical roles played by every watchmen/women. They lead in prayers, they ensure groups follow set rules and regulations that are helpful in recovery, they monitor individual behaviors and give necessary guidance in order to enhance conformity and correct on non conformities, and they mobilize group members for AA meetings and group counseling which is usually offered by Purpose Rwanda Team, conflict resolution, reporting and accountability to Purpose Rwanda on weekly activities undertaken by the group. Without these critical roles, Purpose Rwanda’s Addiction Prevention Strategists cannot make sufficient evaluation of the recovery status of each beneficiary.

Participants during the Launch of Campaign against Delinquency and addiction started last year at Lemigo Hotel

Simpuga JB, one of the Watchmen told us about his experience in leading his group: “There should be no pretence, if we Watchmen and Watchwomen are to make transformation on others. Some of my group members try to give up due to poverty situation they are in. This is because they used to get money through prostitution and selling drugs. They ask me, now we have left all these, how can we survive? Tell Purpose Rwanda we need some assistance in order to survive. Simpunga says he manages the expectations of the group members by preaching hope and resilience and using word of God” That they always comply when he counsels them.

Janet M also shared her testimony in managing the group she leads: “Some of my group members expect money from Purpose Rwanda, I told them, what Purpose Rwanda has done in our lives and is doing is already big and it’s more than money. We always go for meetings and attend AA Sessions at Purpose Rwanda in order to recover.  I know now we don’t have money, we are poor.  While we were getting money through sex work and selling drugs, we did not plan the use of our money well. To me this is not the time to talk about money. Let’s all recover so that when we receive any assistance and more empowerment from Purpose Rwanda, we shall be able to manage it very well. Now what matters is, let’s all get free from addiction, and become sober

Gilbert T, is also a Watchman, he says, “I thought leading a life without drugs and alcohol is not easy. The 90 days of sobriety we went through made my group become stronger. More than 50% recovered.  I use the experience I got from the 90 days to advice members of the group. I advice members of my group never to tell lies in case they are tempted to go back to the bad experience they had. We are all brothers and sisters; we should help one another to recover.  The problem that brought us together has solution and we must solve it totally and help more people and lets all support transformation of our community and development of our great country Rwanda”

Counseling and guidance: when a member or members are faced by personal or psychological problems during their recovery journey, the first person they can refer to is the group leader who is a watchmen or a watchwomen. The group leader may counsel or guide this individual or even refer to one of the group members for necessary help. This serves as a form of first aid. In case the beneficiary’s problem requires the attention of a counselor from Purpose Rwanda head office, the group leader makes the required reference as necessary. This is how the Watchmen and Watchwomen have remained significant at all times in the fight against delinquency and addictions

Instilling some discipline.  This is very crucial in attaining total recovery. Before any Watchman or Watchwoman can instill discipline to members of his/her group, he/she must have undergone some training on how to play this role and what to do should there be cases of relapse and indiscipline in their groups. The committee at group level convenes and adopts a common procedure on matter of indiscipline. They summon the victim for a fair hearing after which he/she is given the necessary guideline to follow. No member of the group is expelled from the group but he/she expected to reform and recover from addictions. In an event the disciplinary issue needs the intervention of the disciplinary committee at Purpose Rwanda Head Office, such matters are handled accordingly when they are referred for further action.

In its contribution in building a Purposeful, Positive and Addiction Free Generation, Purpose Rwanda’s success stories are underpinned by various factors but the role played by the Watchmen and Watchwomen will enter in the annals of Purpose Rwanda History in many ways as explained throughout in this article. The current work by the current Watchmen and Watchwomen gives enduing hope and indication that planting them in every Sector and Cell will shape and solidify Purpose Rwanda’s impact in reaching, rehabilitating and turning all the recovered beneficiaries into Purposeful Agents of Transformation. When this happens, the size of our population participating in enhancing self-sustainability and socio-economic transformation in Rwanda grows exponentially.

The central role of the Watchmen and Watchwomen centers on “building a Purposeful, Positive and Addiction Free Generation”


  1. Very good article

    All my appreciation for the successful work you are doing

    I like the idea of empowering the recovering members ( watchmen and watchwomen) in motivating others

    Most of the successful addiction therapists are former addicts and they are the best in their profession because they do not only use their heads but also their hearts to help others

    Change occurs when one feels understood and accepted unconditionally without being judged for their shortcomings

    A purposeful change should be holistic: of all the people and of the whole person – taking into account the biological, the psychological and the social dimension of the person’s life but also his/her spiritual/ religious belief

Comments are closed.