Building Resilience in Prisons Amidst COVID-19 In Cameroon

24th August 2020.

The outbreak of COVID-19 in Cameroon has caused panic and fear among citizens and communities.  This is more critical especially in prison facilities where the hygienic condition, availability of information and health care is very limited. These prisons suffer most from overcrowding, making it more complex and vulnerable to get infected by the disease.

To this effect, Local Youth Corner Cameroon with the support of One Young World came up with the ‘‘Building Resilience in Prison’’ in a bid to mobilise young people to build the resilience of prisoners to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in prisons through the provision of preventive kits (Support inmates in the production of preventive kits like soap, face masks and Provide them with  hand sanitizers), sensitisation, counter misinformation, panic, and fake news by using stickers and audio messages, training of Prison Administrators on detecting signs and symptoms of COVID-19 in prisons across Cameroon. The initiative works with the existing prison-prenuer project currently operating in eight prisons across the country and our current ‘‘Operation One Person One Hand Sanitizer’’ to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Cameroon Prisons.

This process is led by Michael who was released after 16 years of imprisonment because of his good conduct exhibited during our ‘‘Creative Skills for Peace Project’’ and now runs his own enterprise. He is facilitating this youth approach of building prison resilience by training and supporting inmates in Cameroon to produce their own PPEs to curb COVID19. Prison solutions must not always come from without. ‘‘I count it a privilege for the opportunity to give back to my community and I am happy that during this time of COVID filled with panic and fear I am able to sensitise my peers in prisons and teach them how to produce their own face mask to prevent the spread of this disease in prisons’’ said Michael.

Inmate producing face mask after the production training[/caption]
Inmate producing face mask after the production training[/caption]
Inmate producing face mask after the production training[/caption]

This approach facilitates the rehabilitation of inmates since it gives them a sense of purpose and trust. ‘‘I feel more secure after hearing the sensitization messages because since we are in prison we don’t have access to right information and I was very afraid to die. I have learned how to sow my own face mask, I promise to sow and distribute them to my peers because we all have to be protected to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in prison’’ said an inmate. Our success in prison interventions has taught us that; inclusion, hope, purpose, love and trust has the ability of ending the circle of violence.

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