On the weekend, Pollsmoor Prison inmates gave a helping hand to assemble wheelchairs for donation to communities in Ocean View, Masiphumelele, Retreat, Muizenberg and Capricorn.
Pollsmoor communications manager Mkhanyisi Siphendu said the activity was part of rehabilitation process for those who have offended society.
“This is the way that prisoners are showing remorse for what they did, and it is helping them for reintegration to society,” said Siphendu.
The department of correctional services and Hillsong Church have been in partnership for various community projects, including building a hostel for disabled learners at Thembalethu School in Gugulethu in 2012.
Hillsong church pastor Willem Britz said their partnership has helped them to give to communities where the church is not present but correctional services is.
He said they donated 440 wheelchairs countrywide last year through the Hillsong Church foundation. Britz, who is the organiser of the project said, “Helping disabled people to get wheelchairs is part of restoring their dignity. We are giving them mobility to be able to go to hospitals and areas where they receive their disability grants.”
James Ellis is a Hillsong church member who works for the Department of Correctional Services. He said, “We have lots of people that are waiting for wheelchairs, and we are trying to make a difference where we can.”
Hillsong Church Volunteers (from left to right) Lance Gouws and mother Diane Gouws with prison inmate Gavin Reagen. Photo by Masixole Feni.
Ellis said the project also gives inmates an opportunity to give back to society.
Prisoners told Ground Up that they feel good about contributing in a positive way. Ebrahiem Goliath, who is serving a two-year sentence, said assembling wheelchairs is part of the skill he has acquired while he has been incarcerated. He intends to use it when he goes back to the community after serving his time in November.
Goliath said he turned down parole after serving half his sentence. “I don’t want to owe the state anything. When I leave here, I want to have total freedom,” said Goliath.
Another inmate, Gavin Reagan, said he is happy to do something that will benefit another person. He said prison has helped him to be a better person and he is looking forward to start afresh and earn a living.
Reagan said he is getting help to deal with the stigma that he will have to confront when he goes back into society.
“I am focused on the future and will do things that will help me build the future that I want,” he said.
Source : GroundUp