The news that more than 400 children are living in prisons with their convicted mothers is a very sobering fact indeed. The figure was given at a children’s rights awareness campaign by the Director of National Prisons Service Steven Barinda, and he went ahead to request for the help of local leaders and civil society generally in bringing up these children in normal environments.
Prison life by its nature is very restrictive. The lack of space to play, absence of a proper diet to take, and the general depressing atmosphere in prisons should not be part of the growing experience of a child. Should we maintain Biblical truisms that the sins of parents are to be visited upon their children?
Mothers are complaining that their children are malnourished due to the inadequate feeding habits in prisons. There is no actual telling how far the harm goes in terms of trauma from being cooped up for so long – bitterness and an uncharitable view of the world, all hopes blighted and general misguided hatred of human kind. Children need to be got out of this.
The New Times adds its voice to that of the Director of National Prisons Service to solicit for people of goodwill, to help these yet innocent young Rwandans to get a life outside prison walls. The programme is as noble as the other where families are urged to take up orphaned children and treat them as their own. 400 is too big a number to miss such social amenities like schooling, and we can certainly be sure that such a big number, and presumably growing, will be a social threat in the not too distant future, being social misfits.
This is as good a cause as any for the many community based and non-governmental organisations (CBOs/ NGOs) that often jostle for space for their operations, and most times end up duplicating services in the same areas.