The first-ever Prisons Week got underway in earnest, yesterday, with inmates constructing a bridge in Gasabo District, Kigali City.
Launching the two-week exercise, the Commissioner General of the National Prisons Service, Mary Gahonzire, said that the initiative will see prisoners, across the country, joining hands with other Rwandans in constructing classrooms for the 9-Year Basic Education (9-YBE) programme, houses for the needy and repairing bridges, among other development programmes.
“This programme is in the spirit of rehabilitating prisoners, and we hope it will help promote reconciliation in our society,” Gahonzire said of the exercise dubbed: “What can I do to help my nation?’
The bridge which was repaired yesterday is vital for business activities between Nduba and Jabana sectors of Gasabo District on one hand, and Kigali’s Central Business District on the other, according to local leaders in the area.
Geoffrey Karamuzi, the Executve Secretary of Nduba Sector, told The New Times that the help was significant since the bridge “would have cost us a fortune if we had repaired it on our own.”
“We had already estimated that repairing it would cost us around 1.3 million francs, but thanks to Prisons Week, we only bought timber and some other tools, and managed to save,” said Karamuzi.
“Many vehicles use it on a daily basis carrying foodstuff, gravel, sand and rocks from this sector.”
Speaking later at Rugando Primary School, also in Gasabo, Gahonzire emphasized the importance of giving back to the community. She, however, noted that prisoners were also doing something good for themselves since some of them had children in the school.
The National Prisons Service deployed inmates with building skills to construct the school’s 9-YBE classrooms, and now a complete block is ready for handing over on December 4 when the Prisons Week is scheduled to conclude.