SIERRA LEONE: New Water Well Provides Clean Water, Sanitation for 1,300 in Pademba Road Prison
(MissionNewswire) Prison life in Sierra Leone offers very little hope for rehabilitation or reintegration back into society once a prison term has ended. According to humanitarian watch groups, prisons in Sierra Leone face overcrowding and inadequate food as well as lack vital sanitation and health care. Inmates die from overcrowding, illness and violence.
All too often, minors are detained for petty crimes and end up falling prey to prison violence, giving them little hope for the future upon their release. The country’s largest detention facility, Pademba Road Prison in Freetown, was designed for 324 detainees but had over 1,300 inmates at the time of the report with the number continuing to grow.
Once released, many youth feel they have no choice but to continue a life of crime given the lack of opportunities for legitimate means of earning a living in the country. According to UNICEF, almost two thirds of the population lives below the poverty line, and although the violence has ended, Sierra Leone is still recovering from a brutal 10-year civil war. More than 500,000 people were displaced and more than 60,000 children were orphaned and are homeless.
Salesians in the country are giving new hope to young prisoners of Pademba Prison. Don Bosco Fambul, a leading educational and vocational program for disadvantaged youth in Freetown, is expanding its services to reach youth inside the prison. A new long-term partnership between the prison and Don Bosco Fambul has recently been established and formalized.
This partnership includes the opening of a new youth counseling center for the prisoners that will be staffed four hours each day with two social workers and three assistants. The goal of the center is to give youth and their families the necessary tools for rehabilitation and reintegration upon release.
Recently, Don Bosco Fambul, in collaboration with Brunnenbau Conrad Ltd, a German drilling company, started construction of a new water well at the prison. The well will provide 60,000 liters of water each day and new storage facilities to house the water supply will allow for 40 liters of water per prisoner each day. Because of overcrowding and compromised infrastructure, the prison has had a serious water crisis. There is a lack of clean drinking water available as well as water for healthy sanitation and hygiene.
“The construction of the water well is a significant move as it will help the prison department to maintain hygiene in the prison,” says Brother Lother Wagner, director of Don Bosco Fambul. “Water is life and prisoners deserve better sanitation despite their being prisoners. Our goal is for inmates to rehabilitate and engage in basic training and education to learn the skills that enable them to be better citizens.”
To date, 50,000 euros have been raised through donor partners for the first phase of the project but it is expected that the cost will increase as the project continues.
In addition to providing food and water to more than 70 inmates of Pademba Road Prison each day, Salesians at Don Bosco Fambul offer counseling services, medical assistance and stress therapy to ensure inmates are mentally fit when released.
“Youth incarcerated in Sierra Leone must see hope for the future if we expect to deter them from crime and other dangerous behavior,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Our goal is for youth to use their time in prison constructively and through counseling, begin to address what brought them to the prison in order to prevent their return.”
The new water well is the result of a renewed focus on clean water initiatives by Salesian Missions. According to Water.org, more than 750 million people do not have access to clean water and almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation. The lack of clean water causes more than 3.4 million deaths each year from water, sanitation and hygiene-related causes.
In response to this crisis, Salesian Missions has made building wells and supplying fresh, clean water a top priority for every community in every country in which Salesian missionaries work.
PHOTO: Stock photo (Shutterstock)
UNICEF – Sierra Leone