OUR BODIES MAY BE LOCKED BUT OUR MINDS ARE FREE
It was not my first time walking into the walls of Naivasha Maximum prison. This was actually my third time. As usual we met in town at 6:30a.m. There are always the notorious late comers, and that someone who forgot to buy something and they have to get it that very morning, not forgetting, that they actually got to the meeting point late. At exactly 7:00a.m both Nissans had set off for Naivasha and by 9:00a.m we were at the gates of Naivasha Maximum Prison, waiting to go through the checks. This was done in half an hour and we were all inside waiting to meet the class eight and form four candidates.
You see every time someone thinks of a prison visit, some are grasped by fear of meeting hard core criminals, others are engulfed by sympathy thinking that they are going to meet a hopeless people which is the case most of the time but not so with some of the Naivasha Maximum Prison inmates. You walk into the walls of Naivasha Maximum prison to motivate people but you instead come out motivated, challenged and if you were growing weary of your goals, wallowing in your failures and limitations, your strength is renewed. Now, you are probably wondering why I would make such a bold and flashy statement in the light of all the negative stories you heard about prisons.
The problem we have is that even philanthropists are selfish in their own way, and many people after engaging in some form of social work will talk about the good they have done, how they have impacted lives and how seeing people’s lives transformed is their everyday motivation, but rarely do they talk of how they have also been impacted. So let me tell you my story of the encounters I have had at Naivasha Maximum Prison.
As aforementioned, it was not my first time being behind those high walls. I have to admit that my first visit was not very pleasant; I was afraid and too cautious of everything and everyone around me. I was speechless, what did I have to share with these people? I mean, I have never been through an experience that is half as tough. I tell, when you step in such an environment, even the experience you have gathered from the hurricanes and tsunamis in your life become inadequate. I resorted to being an observer.
For the second and third time, things changed, no, actually we were still going back to the same prison, meeting the same people, so nothing changed, it is my perspective that changed. The energy, passion and enthusiasm among the inmates is always thrilling. A few gloomy faces can be spotted here and there, but generally the team we work with is one big happy family. A good number of them actually have PHDs-prayer, hope, and determination. They are not resigned to fate, they have just accepted their current status and position, and they are thriving in that environment. This is not a case of sleeping giants waiting to be awakened, but giants that are alive and well, despite being caged, they are lions roaring behind walls. Within those walls are senior CPA students, law students studying with a London University, artistes (https://youtu.be/OzMIZx2QW-E , https://youtu.be/cm0Z7UOpURk ), Sculptors, any top notch profession you can think of.”Our bodies may be locked but our minds are free.”~Naivasha prison inmates’ policy.
This is just but a glimpse into some of the success stories of rehabilitation actually taking place in prisons. Bear in mind, that the inmates have limited time, resources, and exposure. It is this that challenges and motivates me. Every time I walk in and out of those walls, I tell myself that I dare not go the grave with my talents and gifting buried within me. Having all the time, more resources and the necessary exposure, I dare not imprison within me what ought to be poured out.
By Audrey Liz