By JIMMY KALEBE
THE reintegration project that is in place now at Buimo prison in Morobe is an initiative of the prison’s commander, Superintendent Felix Namane, and his administration to prepare prisoners for life back in their communities.
The reintegration project is the first of its kind in this country for prisoners who have served a sentence of more than five years in prison. This is so that upon their release they will have a chance to earn a living and, hopefully, stay away from crime.
The first person to benefit under this arrangement was David Koro Warwarick, who was released from Buimo earlier this month after spending 14 years behind bars. He was given a bale of second-hand clothes to help him start a business. The same assistance is available to all prisoners who, hopefully, will go on to be productive members of their community.
“We will after sometime find time to go back to those ex-prisoners who received the assistance and monitor how well and how far they have gone from where we started them off,” Namane said.
“The monitoring and evaluation exercise will help us see how the project has impacted on the lives of these former inmates.
“If they need further assistance from us, we will do all to help where possible to see that their little business sets them up well in their community.”
Namane said the clothes are being supplied by a donor who wishes to remain anonymous, and every month the prison will receive four bales of clothes for the project.
The Buimo programme is also training prisoners to care for other people in their communities, especially the poor and sick, to give them a better sense of compassion and a greater sense of belonging.
As part of this, low-risk prisoners went to Angau Hospital and did some maintenance work there.
Speaking to the prisoners, the hospital’s Director of Nursing Services, Sister Concilla Amol, said: “We need support as well as you, but your gift is very much appreciated. We know many of those that are in the hospital now are from outside districts who have no close relatives (in Lae) to support them.”
She said that the churches, businesses and others have stepped in to provide the hospital with food. But for the inmates of Buimo, the need is different and by helping change lives outside in their communities they hope to change their own lives behind the walls of their prison compound.
Namane said the initiatives are on-going with a bank account already created to support the drive into the future.
Low-risk prisoners – those from the minimum security unit – are involved in fundraising drives around Lae that include cleaning up and other odds-ends work which can raise money for the project.
Hopefully, Buimo is just the start and the initiative will spread to other prisons in the country. It’s all about changing lives and reducing crime: a bale of clothes here and a bale of clothes there can go a long way into making a difference.
By JIMMY KALEBE