AFRICA/MALAWI - The prison, from death trap to a place of hope, thanks to a missionary initiative

Tuesday, 13 December 2016 prisoners   solidarity  

Lilongwe (Agenzia Fides) - "Prison in Zomba, a death trap", is the headline in the Sunday Times on December 4, 2016. "For years this prison is part of the history of Malawi. Built in 1937 in what was a kind of refugee camp, and was to accommodate up to 800 inmates. Today, it holds 2,400 inmates and is a death prison", writes Fr. Piergiorgio Gamba, Monfortan missionary. "This prison is a bit of 'all 30 prisons, small and large in the Country, where about 15,000 prisoners are locked up", explains the missionary, recalling that "in 2014 the Inspectorate of Prisons sent a report to Parliament where it denounced the terrible sanitary conditions, inedible food, overcrowding, abuse of prisoners, lack of ventilation in the cells, corruption of prison staff and lack of rehabilitation programs and apprenticeship".
It is in relation to apprenticeship that "the experience of the Halfway House was born to transform prisons into real reform centers for those who are behind bars and those who live outside".
Among the initiatives undertaken, "thanks to the support of Patrizia Lavaselli and San Marino Group, the nursery school of Zomba prison has become a sewing school capable of self-support and professional training with a lot of recognized exams from the ministry of labor", explains Fr. Gamba. "The women's section is a heaven of peace and the beginning of a women and mothers recovery path behind the bars" said Fr. Gamba. The prison-death trap can be a great life experience", concludes the missionary. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 13/12/2016)