Without intervention, children of prisoners are susceptible to exploitation, poverty, dropping out of school and criminal activity. Together we can stand in the gap to keep them from falling through the cracks of society and giving them a chance for a brighter future beyond the cycle of crime.
Keep reading to see how we are helping children of prisoners live safer, healthier lives!
A moment of reunion during a prison visit facilitated by Prison Fellowship Cambodia
With COVID restrictions easing within prisons in Cambodia, the Prison Fellowship Cambodia team is once again facilitating visits for children in the program to visit their incarcerated parent(s). They recently took a group of TCJ children to a women’s correctional facility in Phnom Penh where they visited their incarcerated mothers — it was a time of overwhelming joy! For many of the children, this is their first time being able to communicate with their mothers in three years. Families are reunited and encouraged through efforts like these, making it more likely that parents will have a supportive community to return to upon their release. This is a key factor in helping prisoners rebuild their lives after incarceration and break the cycle of crime.
Click the image above to see children in Colombia with their new Scripture resources!
While safety, access to education, nutritious food and health care are all critical to ensuring that a child can reach their potential, spiritual engagement is the key area where the program makes an eternal impact. Through our partnership with Biblica, each child and caregiver in The Child’s Journey receives Bibles and age-appropriate Scripture resources in their heart language. The team in Colombia distributed more than 400 children’s Bibles last quarter, empowering those we serve to grow in the grace and knowledge of God’s word. Check out this precious video of TCJ children in Colombia expressing their gratitude for their new Bibles.
A caseworker from Prison Fellowship Malawi conducting a child home visit
Child home and community visits are key for program implementation and success for children in the program. These quarterly visits are an opportunity for the staff to meet with children and their caregivers, come to a full understanding of their specific needs and interact with other members of the child’s community. During these visits, program staff share their vision and work with the members of the community and promote healthy approaches to released prisoner re-integration. It is common for released inmates and their families to be rejected, stigmatized or even held in contempt within their communities. Interviews and meetings with community members help promote a change in perception about these families. Each quarter, the team in Malawi completes more than 700 child home visits.
Clenia’s world fell apart when her father went to prison. The oldest of five siblings, she did everything she could to help her mother, who was working tirelessly as the sole provider of the family. The Child’s Journey stepped in to ensure that Clenia and her siblings would receive essential care like education support, health checks, supplemental food and Scripture resources. But they didn’t stop there…
One evening, there was a raging storm. Clenia’s mother, Seraphine, rushed home as the rains pounded down harder. She began making dinner when she noticed rain dripping down the wall in front of her. As everyone sat down to eat, rainwater began to puddle on the floor and she rushed her children out of the house and into the violent rain. Just as they stepped outside, the walls of their house collapsed and their beloved home was gone. Clenia and her family had nowhere to go. The only posessions they had were the wet clothes on their backs.
The first person that Seraphine called was Clenia’s caseworker to let him know the situation. The caseworker escalated the matter so the family would be able to receive a quick intervention. Not only did Prison Fellowship Rwanda provide the family with a safe place to stay, but they assisted with repairing the family’s home, by fortifying the walls with brick and replacing their roof. Standing outside of their new home, Seraphine beamed, “My children are now safe and singing with joy. We can’t thank The Child’s Journey program enough. May all you have done be forever acknowledged by the Lord!”
Alphonse was enrolled in The Child’s Journey shortly after his father was sentenced to prison in 2016. He has always been active and friendly, frequently participating in community activities hosted by The Child’s Journey. However, his caseworker noticed that he was struggling academically. Program caseworkers are dedicated to assessing the unique needs of each child and creating a plan to ensure that they are receiving tailored support in their areas of greatest need.
She decided that Alphonse needed to receive one-on-one tutoring to assist with his studies to equip him to succeed in school. Since his mother could not afford to pay for any outside help, the caseworker scheduled a weekly appointment with the family to conduct the tutoring herself and worked to train his mother so that she could help him as well. After just a few sessions together, the difference was staggering. Once Alphonse began receiving tutoring at home, he began to excel in school. Because of this marked improvement, Prison Fellowship Togo added as a best practice for all of their caregivers to be trained to become involved in their child’s academic progress. Pictured: Alphonse and his caseworker working on his homework together
TCJ children attend an event where they are provided with de-worming medicine
Due to a variety of factors, including poverty and social stigma, children of prisoners often have difficulty accessing basic and necessary healthcare. This is why regular health checks are an essential service provided to children enrolled in The Child’s Journey. These health checks are comprised of giving an age-appropriate physical that includes recording the child’s height/weight, checking their eyesight, blood pressure and hearing, and making medical referrals for other observed medical needs. During these health checks, children may also receive targeted health interventions for medical issues that are common in their area. In Zambia, many children suffer the effects of having parasitic worms in their gastrointestinal system. This can lead to malnutrition while causing discomfort and illness. Because of the prevalence of this issue, children enrolled in The Child’s Journey in Zambia receive deworming treatments as part of their targeted health intervention.
Interested in learning more or helping even more children? CLICK HERE.
The quality of life for hundreds of children in Malawi is about to improve thanks to a new partnership agreement between Prison Fellowship International and Prison Fellowship Malawi. After a year of preparation, Prison Fellowship International’s child sponsorship program launched in Malawi on November 1. The program commenced with the enrollment of the first 140 children, who will receive food, clothing, access to education, regular medical check-ups, and spiritual and emotional care.
There are millions of children around the world who have lost one or both parents to imprisonment. Many live in dire circumstances, struggling to live a normal, safe, healthy life while their parent–often the family’s breadwinner–is behind bars. Some are forced to beg for food or must drop out of school to work in dangerous conditions. And many are stigmatized and discriminated against for being associated with a criminal.
Prison Fellowship International’s child sponsorship program works in partnership with Prison Fellowship affiliates around the world to rescue, restore, and rebuild the lives of poor and vulnerable children of prisoners. The program ensures children have safe housing and protection from exploitation, and abuse, as well as proper nutrition, medical care, access to education, and the opportunity to develop emotional and spiritual strength. In addition, the program helps children maintain a relationship with their incarcerated parent, which is vital to their wellbeing.
“Prison Fellowship Malawi has been part of the Prison Fellowship International family for nearly 20 years, and their heart and passion for prisoners and their families is at the core of their organization,” said Michele Leith, associate program manager at Prison Fellowship International. “Over the last five years, the child sponsorship program has grown to reaching nearly 6,000 children around the world. With Malawi as our newest program partner, we know that thousands of children who are currently hidden and wondering where their next meal will come from or afraid of what their future holds will be seen, known, and loved, and have a chance for a brighter future.”
The child sponsorship program currently serves 5,716 children throughout Cambodia, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Malawi, Nepal, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Togo, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Over the next year, Prison Fellowship Malawi plans to expand care to 300 children of prisoners. And by 2024, Prison Fellowship International aims to expand the program to serve 800 children in Malawi. Visit pfi.org/malawi for more information or to sponsor a child from Malawi.
Prison Fellowship Malawi was founded in 2001 and is active in 30 of the country’s prisons. This story was originally posted on Christian News Wire.
Aubrey was one of the first children registered into the child sponsorship program in Malawi. He is a shy, curious, and charming six-year-old boy who lives in a rural village with his baby brother, mother, and grandmother. The Prison Fellowship Malawi team and Prison Fellowship International staff met with the family on the front porch of their home to complete registration. The registration process collects information about children and their families to enroll children into the program. It also allows the program team to identify a child’s imminent needs and how program support can help.
During registration, Aubrey’s mother shared that she could not afford to send Aubrey to first grade, because the country’s school fees—which equates to $1 USD— were too high. She said Aubrey loved school and it saddened her that he was not able to go. That was the first time Aubrey spoke up, saying he wanted to go to school, but couldn’t. A few moments later a large group of students walked down the street past Aubrey’s home. He immediately ran to the street to watch the children walk by. It was clear Aubrey longed to be a part of that group.
Through program support, Aubrey has returned to school. His mother is relieved of the overwhelming burden of school fees. Aubrey now has the same opportunities as his peers. Through the child sponsorship program and the generosity of people like you the barriers that prevented Aubrey from attending school are removed, helping to pave the way toward a brighter future for him and his family!
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