Working with Wells of Hope, Rebecca and Anna Ginsburg during their visit, together we carried out an assessment of the reentry landscape in Uganda and general needs assessment required to develop the Ugandan reentry guide.
The Education Justice Project’s reentry guide that they developed for the state of Illinois has been very successful. Learning from what Rebecca and team did through EJP we hope to develop a Ugandan reentry guide which we will probably call reintegration guide the best way its described in Uganda. This will be a booklet or a pamphlet that will avail information to inmates before they are released from prison and after they have returned back to their communities. The guide will identify things to do prior to release and will provide a list of resources for after release. It could have things like where and how to get a national Identity card, mobile telephone lines, HIV/AIDS services for prisoners who have been on special treatment and free legal services, how to continue with education for those who have been doing education programs in prison, how to get a job and many other needs. It will include information of contacts for counselors, employers, housing, healthcare and many more that can help formerly imprisoned persons plan their next steps.
During the study, we interacted with the different people that come in contact with inmates in Uganda, these included: the children whose parents are in prison at Wells of Hope High School and Wells of Hope Junior school, the Uganda prison officers, spouses of inmates, prisoners, civil society organizations which included: The Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI), and Franciscan sisters.
In the prison, they need: information about home; knowledge about how to go about life upon release; assurance that help will be available to them upon release.
People coming home are not all the same. Primary distinctions include: gender; class; length of time served; in condemned section or not; educational level; where returning to (e.g. Kampala, rural areas); Age of person reintegrating is another important distinction. Older people face different challenges than younger ones.
The study further showed that most of the men when released from prison, they often do not return to their families. Most prisoners feared to go back to their areas of origin because they feared the community would revenge and kill them; they were concerned that possibly they had not been forgiven for the pain and loss they had inflicted on the people they had offended. Information and resources that support family reunification or, at least, loving relationships between family and released parents, might change that.
We observed that social well-being is improved when all people are living full, meaningful lives, meeting their potential and able to form stable households and the Reintegration guide will be able to support this.
The Education Justice Project will continue to work together with Wells of Hope Ministries to produce a Reintegration guide for Uganda.