TRANSFORMING YOUNG VIOLENT OFFENDERS INTO PEACE BUILDERS : The Creative Skills for Peace Project Kicks off in Four Prison Facilities.
Category : Creative Skills for Peace
We are experiencing a continuous rise in the number of young people in conflict with the law, radicalised and recruited by violent and violent extremist groups around the world today . In an attempt to provide solution to this challenge , the forces of law and order engages in arrest and detention of these young people as a form of punishment for these crimes . The question is ; what happens to these young persons after they serve their terms ? How do we prevent further radicalisation in and out of prison? How do we prevent them from going back to violence after their sentence ? How do we empower prison staffs to be able to mange these young people while in prison ? Local Youth Corner Cameroon thus developed the Creative Skills for Peace Project as a possible solution to this problem with prime objective to facilitate the rehabilitation and reintegration of young violent offenders through building their vocational and entrepreneurial skills , leadership and peace building skills as an alternative to violence. The Project equally focuses on personality development and building social cohesion through sports and recreational activities.
This project focuses on building “prison-preneurs” in 8 prison facilities in 6 regions (littoral, South West, North West, West, Centre and the Far North regions) within the national territory with 300 young people directly benefiting from unique vocational, entrepreneurial, peace building and leadership skills through need based assessment carried out in each of the prison facilities.
An epic launch of the Creative Skills for Peace project started in the facilities of Douala, Kumba, Bamenda and Buea. Our dynamic team of youth vocational and entrepreneurial trainers, commenced the 7 month long transformation capacity and skill building training. The enthusiasm and energy witnessed demonstrated by the young trainees greatly inspired the trainers to believe in the possibility of transforming these young violent offenders. One of the trainees shared that ” sir we thank God for this day because finally I know I have an opportunity to become a better person and impact my community ”
In the Bepanda Correctional Facility, Douala situated in the littoral region of Cameroon, the training kicked off on the 20th of February 2018 with 30 young people identified as trainees to be trained in three distinctive skills of electrical engineering, African fashionable beads production and soap and detergent production ( 10 trainees per skill), The training will help enhance their independent capacities as young entrepreneurs and also serve as an alternative from perpetrating acts of violence.
photo of trainees showcasing beads they have produced Trainees for the electrical engineering workshop showcasing their skills
On the 6th of March 2018, The Bamenda Principal Prison in the North West region also saw an effective launch of this project. With a total of 48 trainees, this skill building exercise makes us optimistic about the fact that we are moving towards an effective rehabilitation and reintegration. Inmates are being trained in Traditional Cameroonian fashion designing (specifically in ‘Atogho’ a colourful traditional outfit from the North West region), Green house farming (using small land space for high yielding produce), ICT and African bead making. In the words of the superintendent of the facility ‘‘I believe that these four skills will prepare my young inmates to be useful in their communities and be peace loving citizens’’
Similarly, the Creative Skills for Peace Project was launched in the Kumba principal prison with a full participant list of 45 trainees eager to change their mentality by learning new skills to promote their psycho-social healing and economic empowerment. Inmates are being trained in traditional Cameroonian nut bead making, poultry farming, modern day tailoring and ICT.After two weeks of the training one of the trainees in this facility said “… when I came to prison I thought it was over for me , but now learning how to make these beads I feel alive and I have hopes of becoming a better person”
The Buea Central Prison saw the launch of the project alongside the other facilities with a full list of 45 trainees who are undergoing training in infographic designing, music ( DJ and Orchestra ), paper bag production and fashion designing and tailoring. The training will build the skill set of each trainee in a chosen field and help them to be independent, fully rehabilitated and ready for reinsertion into society.
As a complement of the creative skills for peace project we launched the sports for peace tournament which has as main focus to promote social cohesion and love among the inmates . This tournament will run for a period of two months and it included football, handball and table tennis. One of the inmates shared that ” this football tournament has made me to play alongside with some people I did not like , it is keeping us busy , it is making me happy , I am no longer an idle prisoner ”
The Creative Skills for Peace project is core in our mission of rehabilitating and reintegrating youths with a history of violence into their communities. Building on the potential of young people to easily assimilate new skills and their desire to bring change, this project has the capacity of developing a fine generation of young entrepreneurs, start-ups, peace-builders and law abiding citizens from prisons. With the vision to prevent and counter violent extremism through preventing youth radicalization and recidivism, the Creative Skills for Peace project is a game changer.
This project is funded by GHR Foundation supported by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Civic Education Ministry of Justice, United Network for Young Peace-builders(UNOY), Global Centre on Cooperative Security and The Duke of Edinburgh International Awards.