CAMEROON: Men in prison learn skills for future
Salesian missionaries teach soap-making in Ebolowa prison
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries are helping prisoners learn a trade in Ebolowa, Cameroon. Father Artur Bartol, a Polish Salesian missionary, leads a Salesian parish in developing projects and educating youth. He is also a chaplain at the prison in Ebolowa. There prisoners live in overcrowded conditions and receive little food or attention from the authorities. Fr. Bartol has recently taught the prisoners how to make liquid soap so that they can earn a living when they are released.
The prisoners have been convicted of various crimes and live in very difficult conditions. Fr. Bartol does not judge them for their actions but rather helps them spiritually and prepares them in the hopes that they can turn their lives around.
He said, “That’s how we help the prisoners. They learn how to make soap so that after they serve their time, they can produce it for sale and earn a living with dignity. We organized not only courses for soap-making, but also for learning to read and write because not everyone was able to do that. And during vacation periods or holidays we also set up sports tournaments.”
Fr. Bartol first taught the men to make soap powder and then liquid soap. He enlisted the help of soap-making professionals to organize a comprehensive course inside the prison. The course first explains the theoretical part of making soap and then there is a practical workshop to learn by hands-on training. Students are given notebooks to write down the proportions and how many scoops or caps were needed to make the soap. They can refer back to this when they are in the workshop.
The finished products are packaged in containers and sold with stickers that read, “Soap produced in Ebolowa Prison under the direction of Don Bosco.”
More than 30 percent of Cameroon’s population lives below the poverty line and human development indicators remain low, according to the World Food Programme. Poverty is the highest in the Far North, North, Adamaoua and East regions. In northern regions, people are often affected by natural disasters and below-average harvests which contribute to a continuing cycle of poverty and hunger.
Salesian missionaries in Cameroon provide education and social development services to poor youth so they are able to gain the training needed to find and retain long-term employment. They in turn are able to give back to their families and communities.
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World Food Programme – Cameroon