No matter how the prisoners found themselves in the Meru GK Prison, African Enterprise (AE)is on a mission to offer them care and support.
Over 300 staff oversee the 1200+ inmates at Meru, in facilities that are old and dilapidated, and dangerous for use. As one the largest prisons in the Mt. Kenya region, the demand on the property is exhaustive and unrelenting.
Thankfully, in 2001 there was a fundamental policy shiftthat promoted a human rights based approach to the systems put in place to operate prisons, and role of management.
With that change, prisons have an improved focus on staff welfare and healthcare for inmates, and the Kenya Prisons Service (KPS) says rehabilitation is also a top priority.
“Rehabilitation is one of our key mandates,” says KPS. “…We have technical courses which include carpentry, leatherwork, metal work [and more], and we also have courses that focus on the mind and hearts of the inmates.
“Behaviour, good or bad, usually originates from the mind,” KPS says. “We therefore engage the inmates in programs to help them change their thinking and behaviour when they’re out of prison. We offer [inmates] counselling with a psycho-socio counsellor, and for purposes of spiritual nourishment we have chaplains who offer spiritual guidance to the inmates…prisoners are treated as equal human beings.”
The shift is policy has also enabled AEto create safe spaces for inmates to inhabit, and in particular, to worship and pray.
In the Meru GK Women prison, over 300 women inmates and their children had no place to pray and worship on Sundays, insteadusing an open field within the prison compound. This lack of a prayer facility often made it difficult for women with poor health or small children to join others for worship & prayer regularly.
In collaboration with Jireh Fund HK, AE helped construct a shade/shelter for the women, which now serves as their regular meeting spot.
Although simple, the fixed structure has allowed everyone to participate in services, and is approved by security on the premises.
In thanking AE for their support, the General Secretary of Jireh Fund Mrs. Chan Fan emphasized the need for the body of Christ to love and take care of the less fortunate, and appreciated the practical efforts made so far.
African Enterprise CEO Ben Campbell said of the project, “Providing better conditions so that prisoners can see the love of Jesus in action is a great witness to the power and love of Christ. We hope that through the mission process, and both preaching and providing basic care needs to prisoners where possible, that we will help direct people toward a new pathway in Christ.”
Find out more about African Enterprise initiatives at www.africanenterprise.com/aid-development/
Ben Campbell is the CEO Africa Enterprise and Laura Bennett is a contributor for African Enterprise and radio host at Hope 103.2 based in Sydney.