From Touchstone Issue #6 See Full Issue

Prison Orientation Q&A | PF Liberia

Prison Fellowship started providing their volunteer staff with Prison Orientations in 2017. Since then, they have seen their programs run much more smoothly. This has lead to an increased sense of respect for PF Liberia volunteers within the prison community. Here’s how Rev. Francis S. Kollie told us Prison Orientations have helped Prison Fellowship Liberia’s staff, volunteers, and the community they serve.

Why did PF Liberia start doing Prison Orientations?

Prison Fellowship Liberia believes that local ownership is vital to any program or project, especially within the prison environment. With that in mind, PF Liberia decided to get prison authorities involved in all of its programs and projects by carrying out Prison Orientations in 2017, including both prison authorities and PF Liberia volunteers, in order to instill a sense of local ownership in our partnership.

How does Prison Fellowship Liberia run Prison Orientations?

Prison Fellowship Liberia brings together church volunteers, correction staffers, and PF Liberia staff in a form of stakeholder engagement; where each partner gets to know their roles and responsibilities in the prisons. We orientate our staff and volunteers on the “Dos and Don’ts” (Prison’s rules and guidelines) before any implementation of a program or project.

Who runs the orientations?

The Prison Orientations are conducted by the Director of PF Liberia or Program Officer. We sometimes involve a particular prison Superintendent for the purpose of sharing new ideas and knowledge.

How have Prison Orientations helped volunteers prepare for work in prisons?

It equips them with information and rules to guide them as they enter the prison facilities. It also provides partners with clearer responsibilities and respect.

What has the effect been since PF Liberia started running Prison Orientations?

The orientation has been very effective in that volunteers were well prepared to enter the new environment. This has caused volunteers to work smoothly with Prison Authorities without making some common mistakes. This equips them with dos and don’ts. On the other hand, prison authorities see PF Liberia as partners and not spies on them. Information on prisons and prisoners are freely shared with our staff and volunteers such as prison data and challenges.

How has running Prison Orientations helped PF Liberia? How has it helped volunteers?
Prison Orientations has helped build volunteer capacity and has helped the ministry to be able to maintain a good relationship between the Prison Authority and that of the inmates themselves. Prisoners see PF Liberia volunteers and staff as key stakeholders in bringing hope for them while in prison.

We think pushing local ownership is key to inclusivity and openness. It helps each party to be accountable to the other while working for the same goal.


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