ICCPPC Report Africa 2017
Since the Cameroon congress we have had the following regional activities:
1. Trainings in restorative justice in south Africa where Cameroon, Kenya, Zambia, Botswana, and south Africa were trained.
2. we participated in the inauguration of the Africae Munus by Pope Emeritus Benedict xvi, an exhortation of the synod of Bishop’s in Africa on Church working for justice and peace, which was also the theme for the ICCPPC CONGRESS IN Cameroon.
3. We set up a working group for SECAM for Prison Pastoral Care in Africa in 2013 and an action plan for the region which was to be realised between 2015-2017 with representatives from south Africa, Cameroon , Kenya and Madagascar.
4. We held a review meeting for the same in 2015 in Accra Ghana.
Unfortunately the work plan has not been achieved due to lack of funds for training and support for local prison Pastoral Care programs.
Africa is a continent with a total of 52 nations all of which are self independent. Due to its low level of economic development a number of challenges are uniform and rime is equally high as people eke to live and survive in the continent.
It is with this in momind that a number of governments have established corrections facilities to deal with those who break law and order. The offenders are either put in for punishment or for rehabilitation.
It is at this point that a number of people and institutions step in to assist the offender to change his behaviour and live an honourable life again.
Chaplaincy is one of the major instruments that prison regimes use to reform the offenders serving prison time because of past crimes committed.
ROLE OF THE CHAPLAINCY
Chaplains are allowed to operate in prisons either as paid up prison officers of government or as volunteers offering free services supported by their church communities.
They offer spiritual and psychological counselling to inmates for rehabilitation.
Our vision is driven by the believe that we are all created in the image and likeness of God and the crime committed only distorts the original intention of God for man to live a perfect and holy life. The role of the chaplains therefore is to reclaim this lost image and enable the offender to reclaim his lost dignity.
Chaplains also do sensitisation within church communities through outreach programs and as they accompany released inmates back to their homes in order to ease reintegration.
We facilitate family reunion where possible and connect those who are ready to organisations that can offer them credit facilities for startup businesses or give them tools to start workshops.
Though the governments may avail opportunities for formal and vocational training there is always the challenges of stationery so the chaplaincy in many countries subsidises by donating the hardwares and exam fees for their training. Such rehabilitative skills include tailoring,bakery,weaving,gardening,shoe mending, etc
In some countries medical care and prescribed meals to sick inmates is also subsidised by the volunteer chaplains and medics who work in the chaplaincy.
Due to poor conditions in prisons Some chaplaincy work include construction of toilets and other sanitary amenities for prisoners.
Chapels in the prisons have also been availed through the good will of donors who come into the prison through the chaplaincy and this has provided conducive environment for evangelisation and administration of sacraments and other rites.
We also facilitate free legal representation for inmates who can’t afford lawyers by pleading with Catholic lawyers to offer probono services.
1. Despite much efforts put in place to reduce stigma, released inmates still find it big challenging to reenter into families and society due to rejection.
2. Radicalisation inside the prison by the terrorists and suspected terrorists.
3. Lack of full support by Bishop’s conferences in many countries to establish full fledged chaplaincy structures in the prisons leaving only sympathetic volunteers to do the job who sometimes loose the morale due to lack of support.
4. Lack of well trained chaplaincy personnel to deal with the emerging Pastoral challenges in the prisons.
5. Lack of Pastoral rehabilitation manual that would guide chaplains in their work.
6. Poor regional coordination due to lack of communication from various countries and therefore follow up becomes difficult.
7. Frequent transfer of inmates even before they complete rehabilitation programmes and thus frustration the achievements made.
8. Slow judicial procedure for cases and corruption in courts leading to congestion in prisons with pretrial inmates who due to their unpredictable lives are unable to follow seriously the rehabilitation programmes.
Fr. Peter Kimani