FREEDOM IS…

I love my country, I love my country people, but there are a few things that are honestly off. This is my point of view but I might also be speaking someone else’s mind. Are we country people happy? Are we living our best lives? How are we adjusting to the situations?

“Is growth in this country encouraged? Are we pushing ourselves hard enough? What government provisions are there to supplement our efforts as citizens? These questions pose as food for thought.

Research and observation has it that in recent times most Kenyans are depressed. This is triggered by high cost of living among other factors, finding it hard to survive. With most people in need of someone to talk to it is difficult to speak up. What a time to be alive because even some of those in leadership positions are turning deaf ears and a blind eye to situations of the common mwanachi. As citizens, we are consoled because we live to fight each day as it comes. Recently, mortality rates have been high, most being family related in addition to those from the COVID-19 effect.

How do we steer conversations and initiate measures that will challenge the corrupt and those in power? How bold are we in taking our government, fellow countrymen and the systems set to account? For individuals and community based organizations, how do we ease the burden of financing projects to largely accommodate every player in the ecosystem. We all have a crucial part to play in impacting our society.

Further, let me bring you back home.

Do you have people around you that need your help?

Do you think you have what it takes to help or offer assistance?

What are you doing to help?

Do you enjoy freedom?

What’s the freedom you enjoy the most?

What if it was taken away from you?

Freedom to most of us is a source of happiness, to do as we please. Freedom of choice. Freedom of speech. Simple things like choosing what to eat or wear everyday. The things we take for granted are wishes some of our brothers and sisters hardly ever think about.

Prison is one place that limits many of the freedoms we take for granted, because I mean they are normal right? Not seeing or interacting with the people you love daily or as often as you’d like are torture if you think about it. You are forced to adjust to a new normal you were not used to. Remember when the lock down checked in and we were all ‘locked’ in our homes? 

Photo credits; Pixabay

The time has come for us to look back and reflect on our fellows behind bars serving their terms. Looking at some of the cases that had them arrested does not make us any better than them. Environments and life choices led them to certain directions but not entirely.  

Statistics has it that 80% of crimes committed are usually economically related. Driven by the  need to provide for their families some resort to theft, some pressures of not fitting in with peers or a daily family or peer comparison pushes the young people to use and abuse drugs, some caught up in drug trafficking and now they are confined in a correctional institutions with the hope that they will reform. Who is to blame in such situations? Is it the system or the society? Let us think about the officers who are in-charge of the inmates. There is stigmatization surrounding them too but how much do we help to rehabilitate our fellow brothers, sisters and young people in prison?

Prison officers are an integral part in the rehabilitation process. To build their capacity, personal development, life-work balance and psychological support among other aspects is required. As for immediate contact with the inmates, they have to keep reassuring  and listening to the prisoners, supporting their welfare. This may look like an easy thing but it takes patience, resilience and dedication to walk with the inmates throughout their transformation journey, just like a parent to a child. These officers engage with a diverse group of inmates with different character traits.

Their work dynamics necessitates for capacity building and training to enhance performance and equip them with skills to handle the daily demands of their workplace while taking care of their wellbeing. Through skill based training, we offer intellectual, economic, social and physical support. Empowered officers strive to be better and do better. This is observed overtime through the quality of their service and how they impact inmates in and out of prison.

Life has its own share of challenges. Being away from loved ones just makes it worse for the inmates.  Through psychological empowerment, they learn to accept their situations and live with one another, being their own brothers keepers while in prison and better themselves while in prison. Because of such needs that contribute to improving and upgrading our correctional institutions, organizations and individuals commit to for-impact projects and programmes.

As Nafisika trust we have taken up the challenge to help restore, rebuild and transform lives in prison. With this empowerment, life in prison becomes bearable and they are able to benefit from the programmes we offer. Through this, hope is restored so that when they come back to the society, they can function better and be a great influence to others. Lawyers, carpenters, small scaled entrepreneurs are coming out of prison challenging societal tags like, ex-prisoners. The support they received, eg skill training and personal development, while in prison motivates them and now they are better people living better lives.

So, welcome to this pool of thoughts. At this point, think of the many things you have done that could lead to being an inmate or just how a small thing could actually make you lose the freedom you take for granted. What about the many times you complained when told to leave the wrong company or the number of times you were pinched because you were naughty while growing up?  Think about it.

Let’s build a positive response towards life and to those who care for us.

Written by; Yvonne Imali,

Communications Intern||NAFISIKA TRUST

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