The conditions in Kenya’s prisons are very poor. Cells often go back to the British colonial era in the 1950ies. The young and the old, the healthy and the sick, the innocent and the guilty people are squeezed together for months or even years.
Faraja is doing different projects in Langata Women’s Prison, Nairobi Remand & Allocation Prison (Industrial Area), Nairobi West, Kamiti Prisons and YCTC (Youth Correctional and Training Centre), Machakos men and women prisons, Kajiado Prison,Shikusa Borstal Institution, Shimo la Tewa Borstal institution, which are very much appreciated by the prison authorities.
Faraja’s prison work started with the spiritual aid through Fr. Peter Meienberg many years ago. Today he still gives mass twice a week, bringing light into Langata Women’s Prison and Nairobi Remand and Allocation Prison.
In addition to the pastoral work, Fr. Peter Meienberg offers care by means of consolation and hope giving conversations with his traumatized protégés. Ample counselling with qualified personnel is going to be intensified in two of the above mentioned penal institution, offered for inmates as well as for prison officers of any rank.
Humanitarian Aid / School Fees
In prison there is often a lack of hygiene products, food, clothes and medicals. A healthy alimentation is especially important for children – who can stay in prison with their mothers up to year five – but also for HIV-positive inmates. To ensure a good diet, Faraja hands out supplementary food rations to the affected.
Because medical treatment is very poor Faraja supplies sick people with medicals from Faraja’s partner organization “Doctors for the Third World” (German Doctors). In addition the trust sponsored cloth to Langata Women’s Prison to make sure that prisoner do have decent clothing. Inmates are furthermore taught to design their own cloths with sewing and knitting machines financed with Faraja’s funds.
The benefiting recipients are not only prisoner, but also their relatives. Faraja connects these with the inmates and - in case of need - takes relatives into the humanitarian aid programs. Thereby Faraja often deals with school fees payment to youngsters of imprisoned mothers. Even ex-prisoners and their relatives can be admitted to Faraja’s programs.
The infrastructure in prisons often has not been propertly maintained within the past decades and the capacity is mostly maxed out. Therefore Faraja engages with the improvement of infrastructural conditions in various prisons in town. In Langata Women’s a chapel was built and an interior courtyard was covered with a roof and fletched with benches, so that mass can be held even during intense sunshine and rain. Lately, the waiting area in front of the dispensary was roofed and equipped with benches at Nairobi Remand and Allocation Prison. In addition to that, Faraja enlarged the cell windows to let more light and fresh air coming into Langata Women’s Prison. Also to improve the living conditions of inmates, many cells and corridors have been painted recently in the males remand. To the same initiatives belongs the project, giving beds and new mattresses to inmates at the women’s prison.
Faraja is also concerned about hygiene and nutrition. So Faraja renovated three prison kitchens within the passed two years. – The one from Langata Women’s Prison, from Nairobi Remand and from Kamiti Maximum. Large, more hygienic and energy efficient pots are replacing old and shabby ones. Windows have also been added to better the air circulation and lead out the smoke. Furthermore, walls got a new paint to brighten up the cooking place. In Langata, there was a bakery established just next to the kitchen to impart baking skills, but also they have a source of income by selling fresh goods to the local market.
In Nairobi Remand and Allocation the water supply for certain wards was not sufficient. Hence, Faraja installed three tanks of 10’000 litres each to store water from the city council. More tanks are planned to guarantee water for some sanitary installations of the officer’s living area, which are going to be renovated soon.
To give inmates a possibility to move open-air and perform sports, Faraja set up sports ground in Langata and Nairobi Remand and donated volleyballs, basketballs and footballs. From time to time sports tournaments are held on the grounds - prizes again are sponsored by the trust.
From Faraja’s point of view it is also very important that inmates do have access to education facilities while in prison. In Langata Women’s Prison, a computer room, a library and a room with sewing and knitting machines were erected. Also in Kamiti, class and computer rooms got installed, in Nairobi West a new school building was constructed and supplied with computers for basic computer training skills . In Nairobi Remand, a well-fletched computer, sewing and counselling rooms were also built and equally supplied with computers from Faraja.
The existing prison farms at Langata and Kamiti YCTC got face lifting by means of improving the infrastructure, providing technical implements and sponsoring seedling and animals. The farm’s goal is to supply the establishment with agro-products, to train prisoners in agricultural skills and give them an engagement at the same time. Prison officers responsible for farming therefore attend short courses at Faraja Latia Farm before implementing their knowledge to inmates back in jail.
Training and Engagement Programs
A three months computer training, both for prisoners and prison officers is held at Langata, Kamiti, YCTC, Nairobi Remand and Nairobi West prisons. The participants receive thereafter a certificate, which raises their chances on the job market.
In Langata Women’s Prison courses in sewing and knitting are being held successfully since many years. A sewing workshop is furthermore going to be facilitated in Nairobi Remand, as soon as the room is built and equipped for that specific purpose.
The newly installed stoves at Langata Women’s Prison enable the penal institution to also offer courses in baking. Inmates and officers can gather skills and graduate in this specific field.
Already in three prisons in town Faraja could give a head start to prison farms, where nowadays prison officers themselves are teaching inmates in agriculture.
Moreover, an art workshop for capital offenders is going on three times a week in Nairobi Remand and Allocation Prison. Thereby, a rehabilitation process is being catalyzed through drawing and painting.Similar art work trainings were rolled out to other prisons thus Nairobi West, Langata Women's prison, Kamiti Maximum, Kamiti Medium and YCTC.
Prison officers do have to work under poor conditions, often have a low level of motivation and sometimes feel neglected. Most of them live in simple housing on the same compound with their families.
Faraja responded to that with a unique workshops focusing on various aspects affecting their work environment but also their private life. In specific, issues like motivation, attitude and behaviour, violence, corruption but also topics like drug and substance abuse, ethnicity or HIV/Aids, basic counselling skils, financial management were discussed. The aim of these courses was to motivate the prison officers, to improve their attitude towards work and the give them self-confidence and self-esteem through identification with their professional role.
The penal system in Africa is marked by lapse of justice, delay of proceedings, arbitrariness and corruption. Therefore the trust works closely together with a few lawyer who offer pro-bono services to deserving cases.
If prisoners are once set free, Faraja is accompanying them by means of giving a head start to a regulated life outside the prison walls and to make integration easier. Meanwhile Faraja works closely together with two foundations, which do run halfway homes for ex-inmates. Faraja sends them there, if they don’ t dare to go home straight away, but would like to stay in Nairobi for a while.