We took 74 children , 57 to Luzira Upper Prison, 8 to Luzira Women Prison and 9 to Nakasongora prison .
And among these children 11 were visiting for the first time.
Prior to this visit we conducted a pre-visit to the prisons.We also had pre-visit counseling with the children. Apart from one prison .The parents were prepared with food and other items to give to the children and Also the children were prepared with letters to give to their parents , these letters are written by the children to their parents and some of the letters are from their guardians in the village where they hail from.The children also go with books, school reports and sometimes bibles.
The children started preparing themselves the day before and by 06:00a.m they were ready .After having breakfast ,they had prayers and left the school in a bus which we had hired .On their way, they sung songs of victory and praise. By 11:00a.m we had reached the respective prisons.
It’s a magnificent moment when the children meet with their parents, it is these photographs that cannot be taken but imagined: There was a lot of excitement ! they ate together, talked, some children sat on their parents laps, and the parents went through the children’s past papers and school reports. The parents invited the prison officers to greet their children and they were all smiling. Some parents also provided gifts and items like stationery to the children.
The parents whose children have just joined secondary/high schools were too excited to see their children in their new uniforms; they were worried that their children couldn’t continue with school,given that Wells of Hope does not have secondary section and it is expensive.But Wells of Hope sponsors them in the private High schools .
HOPE 5 years AND BERNARD 8 years
These two children were visiting their father for the first time. Their father took a long to come, and the children started crying because they weren’t seeing him but the most touching moment was when their father came into the room and the children could not recognize him and neither could he also recognize them.When we took the children to him, he smiled and then cried, in his words he said,”I left when Hope wasn’t yet born and Bernard was two years old.”
Lawrence 7 years and Deborah 9 years ; Lawrence had never seen his father since he was a baby; he bonded with him so fast. The whole time he was in his father’s arms talking and telling him stories. Deborah is a bit aggressive so her siblings reported her to the father; he talked to Deborah about her aggressiveness and was advised to behave and be a good girl.
Cissy 5yrs and Christine 11 years
These two lovely girls were also seeing their father for the first time since he was imprisoned 7 years ago, when he came in Christine recognized him first and so they all ran to him, he hugged them, and he lifted them.
Peter Ojangole said a very passionate prayer for his father on death row, “God strengthen my father , and keep him strong, may he always remember that he is not alone and Lord may you release him out of this prison.” Peter and his siblings were very happy . Their father encouraged them to read hard and be good mannered children.
LUZIRA WOMEN PRISON
There was indescribable excitement that engulfed the mothers in prison and children; This aura of happiness did not spare the team from Wells of Hope either and the prison staff as well. The inmates in prison are able to make some little money from the crafts mainly, and because we had been here a week ago for a pre-visit session, these mothers work many days to make this day great!
They prepared a sumptuous meal for their children and they also had goodies which they had prepared which they gave the children to carry back to Wells of Hope academy. You could think that it was the children's visitation day in a residential school, and yet here it is the children visiting instead of parents visiting their children at school.
Nakasongola Prison, is 70 miles North of Kampala ,it was a 6 hour journey. We thank God it was a safe trip. But because of this distance the mothers in prison had little hope that we would be able to take their children to visit them.
The Joy the children and their parents exhibited is unspeakable !The mothers were allowed to sit with their children under a tree with one guard and the welfare officer present, but the atmosphere was relaxed! They did not have anything to eat together so one of the PRISON lady wardens who was so happy to see the children went to the canteen and bought everyone a sweet .
Bonnie the mother of Marias, Hellen and Catherine has just been transferred to this prison from the Women maximum security prison in Luzira Kampala. She said, that "In this prison we are not able to make anything for sale because we have no market, its not like when we were in Luzira where we could make crafts and sell", says Bonnie, mother to the three girls. Because in this prison they don’t have education programme for inmates, Bonnie says “I have had to stop my studies, I have given my books to Catherine, let her use them" because they were in the same class.This woman is very hard working, she used to make crafts and support her children,but now she has no hope. My prayer is that we can find market for the crafts they make, so that she can resume working. We pray God provides a solution for her to continue her education in the prison.
Daddy, Will you ever come back?
The father of Mary and Aloysius sat in one of the offices with an officer/warden present.He was the only father being visited. So we were given ample time to talk. Aloysious asked his dad "but Daddy, will you ever come back? I sit in class and just wonder whether you will ever come back to us", His dad assured him that he would come back home soon. Aloysious is so quiet and withdrawn boy. ALoysious and Mary told their father that back at home they are rejected and abused. Together with their father we counseled and comforted the children. Normally when children visit, their parents give them gifts or share meals with them, but here Aloysious and Mary’s father is not able to do that, so it was so sad seeing these children looking so helpless ,with anticipation that was not yielding anything. And For Aloysious it was so pronounced!
For all things that we do for Children of prisoners under our care, children visiting their parents in prisons is one thing that we have found to be the most life changing.
We still have challenges with transportation; we spend a lot of money hiring Vehicles .
Thank you for your prayers,we thank Marjorie Lunkuse the Projects Coordinator who led the team and for always organizing these visits .We thank all the other volunteers Ellen Ssuubi, Jane Namalike, Susan Nassuna, Gina and Steve Gant , Lydia, Florence Babirye, Annette Nakakande a board member ,the teachers David, Ben, Sharon and Agnes the matron for girls, for accompanying the children.