By Byron Mutingwende
Norton-based Jedidiahh Trust is positively impacting society by rehabilitating and re-integrating inmates into the community.
Speaking to Spiked Online Media in Norton, Lovemore Chikwanda the founder and Executive Director of Jedidiah Trust said his organisation came up with this initiative after realising the plight of the incarcerated.
“As Jedidiah Trust, our focus is on providing education, psycho-social support, start up for those released from prison and lobbying and advocacy for better policies.
“In doing so, we work with various stakeholders who are willing to partner with us to bring hope to the inmates whose hope would have been dashed through incarceration. In addition to this, we conscientise the society on remembering their own who would have been incarcerated. We have realised that there is massive stigma and discrimination against the incarcerated. Many a times, families turn their backs on these people. Society shuns them when they are released. More often than not, they are labelled,” Mr. Chikwanda said.
He lamented the fact that it appears that the law seems not to give them a second chance. This exacerbates the plight of such people.
The organisation has partnered Mrs. Getrude Mandizvidza, a philanthropist from Norton who has positively impacted many lives in the small town of Norton.
“At the Chikurubi Female Prison for example, there are many incarcerated women who are staying there with their children. These children are literally serving the prison terms with their mothers despite the fact that they are innocent.
“While in prison, these children literally miss out on good things that life offers. It means their rights are trampled upon. They are deprived of the rights to education, proper shelter, clothing, balanced diet, family set up love and food. From a sociological perspective, these children lack socialisation with their peers. Our plea to policymakers and society at large is to look into the welfare of these children and craft policies for rehabilitating such children at the time that their mothers will be serving prison sentences,” Mrs. Mandizvidza said.
She added that there was need to even consider scouting for foster parents or building children’s homes that specifically cater for these groups of children. Mrs. Mandizvidza appealed to the Registrar General’s Office to avail such children with important documents like birth certificates.
A recent visit by Spiked Online Media to Chikurubi Female Prison established that most of these children have no access to proper medicine. Due to the prevailing economic hardships, these children have no access to milk formulas especially those not allowed to breast-feed due to health problems of their mothers. They lack basic necessities like diapers, warm clothing and blankets.
This development is putting a strain on the already overburdened Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services, which is doing the best it can according to their meagre provisions. This kind of set up hinders child development.
Jedidiah Trust appealed to individuals, the donor community and development partners to partner it in helping these children and those incarcerated.
In pursuit of helping these children, Mrs. Mandizvidza bought clothes for the children, kindergarten books and some groceries that she intends to hand over to the authorities at Chikurubi Female Prison. She appealed to well wishers to follow suit.