“I am very happy to have attended this seminar. I see things from a very different perspective now. The things I have always known, sound new. I like the approach and I hope to benefit my congregation, including the prisoners from the lessons I take from the sessions.” This was a statement from the pastor ministering the protestants churches in the prisons, who was one of the participants in the AHAPPY training of trainers in Nyahururu Prisons.
One of the goals of AJAN is to expand the collaborative efforts on youth integral formation through AHAPPY with the Catholic Chaplaincy pastoral ministry in prisons. The fruits of this endeavor has seen majority of Catholic catechist working in prisons in Nairobi region trained on AHAPPY youth program. The ongoing activities are conducting the same training for the prison officers.
One of the Catechists Mrs Lilian Waweru, who was trained in Nairobi region and initiator of AHAPPY program in prisons, upon her transfer to Nyahururu, having seen outcome of AHAPPY training among the officers and catechists, invited AJAN to undertake AHAPPY training with the officers serving in Nyahururu main and women’s prisons (formerly known as Thompson Falls main and women’s prisons). The prisons are located within Nyahururu town, about 187 km from Nairobi, in Laikipia County, administratively falling in the Rift Valley Province Region.
The training took place on the 10th to 12th May. A total of 14 prison officers completed the sessions. Officers were drawn from different departments including social welfare, chaplaincy, main prison, and women prisons among others. The closing ceremony was graced by Madam Catherine Mutembei, Deputy Officer in Charge Nyahururu Women prisons and Fr. James Nduati, the catholic priest chaplain in-charge of Nyahururu main and women and Nyandarua prisons. In her closing remarks, Madam Mutembei addressed the participants saying, “I am happy to know that you have been going through this training on HIV and youth development brought by AJAN group. When I hear about your training on HIV, I am fulfilled because I happen to be an HIV & AIDS peer educator, a work am passionate about. My question to you now is, how do you plan to pass this information to your colleagues? What programs are you going to carry out for the prisoners relating to your training? People like AJAN group have come here to enhance our knowledge and share their materials with us. We want to see you come up with new ideas, creative programs. It is not enough to hear only, bring your ways of preaching to prisoners, develop new materials so that we can also have our materials to share with others, we want to learn from you. We want to have people/ officers who absorb information and pass it to others. I want in a special way to appreciate Madam Lilian for connecting us to AJAN. We are grateful for this.”
On his part Fr. Nduati addressed the participants thus. “When HIV first appeared more than 40 years ago, I was young. From what I saw, I liken its devastating effect to that of Corona. People died, they were buried in polythene bags, it was scary. Stigma was so much, not only for the patients, but to their families. Infected people suffered, alienated, and separated from families and communities. Through studies, the disease has been demystified and so much has been done to improve lives of people infected and affected. This training in prisons, it will continue so that we bring behaviour change. As we change our own behaviours, then we acquire capacity to bring change to others. Thank you, AJAN, for this training. Participants, thank you. We can be able to change the world. The world cannot be changed from outside, we change from within, beginning from me first. I belief you are going to be role models and to build the community here in Nyahururu main and women prisons. By this training, we want to empower you; as you become witnesses as you go and preach outside there. Bring hope. The hope that through you and me, we can transform the world. Towards vision 2030, no one among us will be sick of HIV I believe, those already infected, can live a very productive life. May you receive the spirit of God to guide you as you go for the mission.”
One of the officers, working in the Documentation section shared that from his station, he handles personal information of inmates as they come to prison, and he feels that training has truly challenged his approach of handling inmates. He added, “I have enjoyed the training. Among the many benefits to me, I have learnt to live with challenges; how to be a good leader; learnt more about HIV and AIDS and how to deal with it in the society and more about human values. I wish you would come here more and more to impart more knowledge to us. As of how this knowledge is helpful to me in my work; as a prison officer working at the Documentation desk, I am the first person in the reception and admission of prisoners. For particularly those infected with HIV, I will use education received in this training to protect their values, live with them in a humane safe and trusted ways. I will guide those not infected to live with those infected without stigmatizing them, but to live in a conducive and well-being environment equal for all.”
Development and Capacity building, AJAN