A new Alliance in Freetown: The Salesians and Young Prisoners
November 15,,2013 - Sierra Leone
The Salesian Community in Freetown/Sierra Leone have extended again their service for disadvantaged and marginalised youngsters. These time the project is located inside the Central Prison in Freetown.
From the 1st of November 2013 on the new Youth Counselling Centre was open. Four hours a day two social workers and three pedagogic assistants will be available for counselling, rehabilitation as well as reintegration. Furthermore, the pastoral activities will be expanded. Apart from the weekly Eucharistic Celebration and an offer of reconciliation, every Friday a Taizé-service will take place.
Moreover, necessary building measures were agreed upon. An official opening ceremony of the project took place on 8th of November 2013. The Salesian Community celebrated together with prisoners a mass held by Father Ubaldino Andrade, the Rector of the community.
It took several rounds of negotiations to eventually sign a “Memorandum of Understanding” (MoU) between Don Bosco Fambul and the Sierra Leonean Prisons. Both sides showed great interest in a medium- and long-term strategy plan and cooperation. Five focal points are planned:
- Creation and implementation of a Youth Counselling Centre including counselling and rehabilitation measures at the prison and in the families.
- Water supply for 1,500 persons as well as the construction of sanitary facilities.
- Pastoral activities.
- Establishment of a school and a training centre.
- Equipment of a library.
The pedagogic and administrative organisation and the organisation of all the building projects lies with Don Bosco Fambul. The concepts and construction plans will be planned together and agreed upon unanimously. A supervision team consisting of three members of each institution will accompany the cooperation. The MoU was signed at Don Bosco Fambul.
The Central Prison, also called Pademba Prison, was built for 300 prisoners and currently houses 1,712 of them (true as of 2013-11-08). The conditions at the prison are particularly bad and cruel. More than once in the past years Don Bosco Fambul has pointed out that the life conditions of the prisoners in no way comply with international standards.
A lot of the inmates die due to overcrowding, bad hygienic conditions, brutal violence and illnesses. There are no beds, mattresses or sanitary facilities. There is no water supply. A lot of the buildings are in conditions so poor that the roofs collapse. The main problems are the lack of sanitary facilities, the lack of food and medical care. Don Bosco Fambul estimates that approx. 350 minors are imprisoned due to petty crimes. Lots of them are denied legal assistance.
Source: Agenzia Info Salesiana