Prisoners in Africa

Prisoners-in-Africa Emmanuel Asiedu  |   4 MINS READ January 21, 2021

Prisoners are, regrettably, a marginalized community in Africa. Their lives are filled with hopelessness and a sense of dejection.  

The greatest asset humans have is their fellow humans; and we must not hesitate to continuously demonstrate support and love for each other regardless of our current predicaments. 

I am passionate about helping prisoners and have thus joined an organization with the purpose of bringing hope to them.

I have come to appreciate that putting a smile on the face of a prisoner carries the very meaning of life and offers humanity an opportunity to reconstruct itself. Prisoners are not meant to die in prisons but to be reformed and reintegrated into the society or their community. They are an offspring of our family system, our society, and a true representative of the world we live in.

In 2017, I joined the Prison Ministry of the Assemblies of God and have undertaken a number of trips to some notable prisons in Ghana, namely the Nsawam, James Ford, and Akuse prisons. I have seen inmates deprived of the basic needs and children who, otherwise, should be with their families and in schools, incarcerated. 

Our prisons, unfortunately, lack the proper infrastructure to help reform the inmates and offer little by way of acquisition of new skills. In such a condition, inmates find themselves indulging in all kinds of vices such as drug abuse, violence or falling victim to sodomy because they are not fruitfully engaged. 

The likelihood, after incarceration, to become individuals who are a constant threat to their communities and families is therefore very high. 

This sorrowful sight would have any sensitive person reflect on what our society has become. The negligence or denial of families and friends adds to the already bleak picture of the incarceration system.

In our part of the world, people who happen to find themselves in prisons are mostly abandoned by their families and friends and usually left to their fate in complete isolation. They are regarded as criminals and hence a disgrace to their families. In these conditions, one can only be psychologically affected, leading to mental instability. 

My various trips to prisons have afforded me the opportunity to understand that all prisoners are not guilty of the offenses they are accused of. Sometimes, the acts which led them to be convicted are not intentional but often accidental.

Moreover, a number of them, though not yet convicted, are kept in remands and mixed up with other convicted inmates which may lead to having some of them ending up as criminals through no fault of theirs due to the environment they find themselves in. 

Through our organization, we hold periodic counseling sessions with these inmates with the objective to make them appreciate the life they have and use their time in prisons as a period to reflect and ponder in order to make the right choices in the future. 

We also engage with them to understand the cause of their incarceration, their needs, state of mind, and aspirations.

Beyond these engagements, we get churches and other individuals to contribute in-kind (soaps, pads, food items, toothpaste, toothbrush, clothing, etc.) and money to partly alleviate the pain and hardships they are going through. 

For instance, this very Christmas, we purchased and received donations for new clothes for the female inmates at Nsawam prison. 

Through the benevolence of philanthropists, we have been able to set up a small artisanal center at Nsawam prison where inmates are trained in baskets, beads, handbags, and slipper making. These items are displayed at the forecourt of the prison to enable any visitor to purchase the same in order to raise some funds which will, in return, be used to take care of some of their needs. 

Each Christmas, we select a prison and organize a party for the inmates. This is the time for us to mingle, dance, eat, and share with our friends and chat with them. The inmates cherish these moments the most as they feel a sense of belonging and acceptance.

On the other hand, one very important aspect of our work is the continuous interactions that we have with these individuals after they are out of prison. Post prison care is imperative for the rehabilitation of these people. 

 

Emmanuel Asiedu
Deputy Supply Chain Manager
Agriculture and Allied Industries
Ghana
Project Management Practitioner

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