Organization tries to reform Kenyan prisoners

17:31, July 13, 2010      

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Prisons in Kenya are the last place where you would expect one to have friends. Often, inmates are shunned by the society and those who embrace them at times face similar treatment.

This is because some prisoners committed atrocious crimes that the society is reluctant to forgive, for instance rape and murder.

Therefore, some stay in jail for several years without their relatives visiting them. And when they come out, they are rejected by the society.

But believing that prisoners deserve better treatment if they are to reform, one man is trying to change this state of affairs.

Brother Linus Schousten, a Dutch national, is working in Kenya' s 96 prisons trying to better the lives of inmates, through an organization known as Father Grol Welfare Projects. "We strive to transform and improve the lives of over 60, 000 inmates through rehabilitation. We give them tools, money and personal effects to help them begin life when they complete their sentences," he says

Schousten boasts of many friends in jail than outside. And he has virtually been to all Kenya's prisons uncountable times. "Each time I visit jails, I get convinced that inmates deserve a better treatment if they are to transform after completing their sentences," he says.

The organization advocates for inmates' rights and aids ex- offenders reintegrate in the society. In trying to improve inmates' social welfare, Schousten and his team organises sports competitions in prisons.

Their latest activity was a replica of the World Cup at Kamiti, the most secured prison in Kenya. During the tournament, inmates formed teams according to countries that featured in the World Cup and competed against themselves. "We provided for them uniforms and balls while prison authorities offered us grounds. It was exciting to see prisoners freely interact with warders. These games helped them to socialise, " he says.

More captivating however is that in the competitions, Ghana punished Uruguay, France advanced to the quarterfinals and Netherlands lost to Brazil.

The institution also supports inmates' education. "We pay examination fees for inmates and we have opened libraries in different jails across the country to encourage reading," says Schousten

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