Sandrine’s father passed away and her mother is incarcerated. She is trying to find her way in life but without the support, love, and guidance of her parents. Her future looked hopeless. And with no hope for a future, there seemed little reason to continue school.
Three years ago, Sandrine was enrolled in The Child’s Journey. She was given emotional and spiritual support, as well as tuition and nutrition assistance. “The services I received through the program have improved my life in many ways,” she says. “The support enabled me to continue my studies and prepare to have a brilliant future.”
What helped Sandrine regain hope and joy the most was receiving regular calls and visits from the program team. Team members and volunteers regularly contact Sandrine to check in with how she is doing emotionally, in her school work, health-wise, and if she has a safe living environment. “Knowing someone cares about my life makes my burdens less heavy to carry,” she says.
The Child’s Journey program stands in the gap for the children of prisoners, like Sandrine, who are otherwise overlooked and ostracized. Because Sandrine was sponsored and enrolled in the program, hope for a brighter future and trust in other people has been restored. Sandrine says, “May God bless the program and all individuals who, near or far, contribute to this support.”
Children of prisoners are well acquainted with the unexpected twists and turns life can take. One day, they’re a carefree child, and the next their father or mother is ripped from their life and sent to prison. It’s truly amazing the difference one person can make in the life of a child in need.
Fourteen-year-old Yvonne, in Rwanda, knows this firsthand.
We found Yvonne three years ago, living in the care of her older sister, because both of her parents are in prison.
Imagine being an adolescent girl and losing both parents during a time when you need them most. Gone is the security of a parents’ love and the consistency of their presence. What’s worse, in Rwanda children under 18 years of age aren’t even allowed to visit their parents in prison. Yvonne won’t be able to see her parents for another four years, and they won’t be release until she is 28 years old.
Yvonne’s life is a beautiful, true story of how just one special person (a person like you and me) can transform a life. Yvonne’s supporter has developed a relationship with her, and she recently shared how much this relationship means to her:
“I never imagined someone besides my parents would love me this much.”
Because of that one person, Yvonne is well fed and clothed. A Christian caseworker also visits Yvonne regularly to ensure she lives in safety, has opportunities to interact with peers, be connected to a Christian community, and is able to continue her education.
“I was excited that I was going to study without being chased out [of school],” says Yvonne.
Yvonne’s education is critical in helping her grow into a confident young woman. Her supporter paid Yvonne’s education four years in advance so Yvonne will never have to worry about being able to finish school. But beyond her education, Yvonne couldn’t have imagined what more she would receive through the generosity of someone like you.
“My life has changed. Other children in the neighborhood and at school ask me about my life because they can see how happy I am and how I look good. I tell them that somebody they don’t know loves me.”
Give Now to Support a Child in Need of Practical Care and God’s Hope
Photo: Norman Nyakapadza could not hold back his expression of love for his family, after he enveloped his wife and children in an embrace.
Children of prisoners in Zimbabwe are celebrating after Prison Fellowship Zimbabwe (PFZ), an affiliate of Prison Fellowship International (PFI), successfully lobbied to overturn a prison visitation ban. This is a breakthrough for Zimbabwean children of prisoners under 18 years old, who were not permitted to visit anyone in prison—even their incarcerated parent.
“There is a growing awareness and evidence, globally, of the significant impact on children and inmates when children can visit their parent in prison,” says PFI’s International Director of Child Sponsorship Adam Hutchinson. “Studies show children who maintain a connection with their incarcerated parent report higher feelings of safety, stability, and overall emotional wellbeing. There is always a reduced likelihood of a parent re-offending after release, meaning families are stronger and children are better care for.”
After a series of meetings with the Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Service to present prison visitation as a rehabilitative tool for prisoner behavior, children from five families in PFZ’s children of prisoners program were granted visitation. Some, like 10-year-old Precious, had not seen their fathers in nearly a decade.
“Feedback from these families is that the children’s behavior changed positively and they couldn’t stop talking about such a memorable event,” says Wilson Femayi, PFZ children of prisoners program manager. “The prison social workers also reported a remarkable behavioral change in inmates who met with their families for the first time.”
After the successful trial visitations, government officials agreed to institute an annual visitation week open to all children of prisoners throughout the country. The impact of this decision has encouraged Prison Fellowship International affiliates in Rwanda and Zambia to make similar appeals to their own prison visitation laws, which are already yielding similar results.
About Children of Prisoners Sponsorship:
Prison Fellowship International’s child sponsorship program helps rescue, restore, and rebuild the lives of innocent children of prisoners throughout eight countries. Through one-to-one sponsorship relationships, children receive access to food, medical care, education, safety, and spiritual and emotional support. Prison Fellowship International affiliates deliver these services through partnerships with local government, NGOs, and churches.