Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Bugembe Prison: No Photos Allowed

Bugembe Prison remains unchanged. The brick and plaster structure with its raised courtyard serves the men well enough. As we enter the doorway, the dark-skinned men can be seen pulling their bright yellow shirts over their heads. Big white smiles mark their faces as recognition comes. I was surprised to see almost double the number of people there (81 this time) and there was no way of fitting into the small chapel. The women file in after the men are seated, no babies wit maamas this time.

I learned that almost all of the group is participating in the skills training programs now, even when they’re only sentenced for a few days. The demand for more materials increased not only because of the larger number of people in prison but also because of increased interest. These men are eager to work and learn and to hear what the Word of God has to say about such things. They’re hearing the success stories of those who have been released before them. Some of those released prisoners go back to their home villages and we’re unable to check up on them and see how things are going. My next visit will include checking in on those who are more nearby.

We had a goose bump moment when I asked Carpenter John for his Bible and looked up Ephesians 5:1-2 to talk briefly about walking in the way of love – a very appropriate verse for these inmates – and that verse was already circled. I flipped through the rest of the Bible and not one other mark was made in that Bible…only “walk in the way of love.” I love those moments.

I left a bag of fabric donated by the Caring and Sharing women’s group and the girly dress pattern with Geoffrey, the prisoner vice chaplain. My hope is to see how well they can follow the pattern instructions and how their skills compare with the Konoweka ladies. I also left some money with Carpenter John to restock the training materials and keep the program moving forward. I’m still troubled by the idea that I can no longer take photos in the prison. The new OC is simply following long-standing rules but it’s tough after the former OC allowed the photos. God grant me the ability to not be bent out of shape over this.