The children of inmates received schoolbags and stationary from the TT arm of the National Alliance of Faith and Justice, a gesture appreciated by the inmates’ parents and spouses.
Yesterday, 100 children received bags with pencils, pens, copybooks, scrapbooks, scientific calculators for secondary school students, and a bible or bible-based story book at the Prison Service Sports Complex in Arouca.
Julia Blaise, of Cumana, said she had been caring for her son’s two boys after he was incarcerated in January, last year. She said she did not know where she would have got money for the books since her recent application for welfare was sent in too late for her to receive a cheque before schools reopen in September.
“It is really a great idea. I was shocked when they called to tell me about this. It brought tears to my eyes.
I’m so happy to know that there are organisations like this that think about the children. I couldn’t do it all and God made a way.”
Ria Jonas from Debe told Sunday Newsday the father of three of her children had been in the Remand Yard for the past six years, and no one had ever done anything for them.
Therefore she was surprised and happy about getting materials that were on her children’s book lists saying it would help her a lot.
Responsible for treatment and training programmes for juvenile offenders in the Prisons Service, Krishna Bedassie, president of the National Alliance of Faith and Justice TT, said he wanted to help stop the “school to prison pipeline.”
He said the majority of prisoners in the system were between the ages of 18 to 30 and many of the boys at the Youth Training Centre had a parent in prison.
“We want help to break that cycle by making education and salvation (a priority) because if we just educate we would have educated offenders. But when we include faith in what we do, we will have changed hearts and changed minds.”
Bedassie revealed his father spent most of his school life in prison. He said his mother and his ten siblings struggled and they only survived with the help of others. He told the children that God gave them potential and had a plan for them, and it was not for them to be in prison like their parents.
He urged them not to be ashamed or discouraged but to focus on their schoolwork so they could make their dreams come true.