Inmates find new family with Red Cross

Published: 9 January 2017 4:03 CET

By Simon Nianfop


Inmates at the New Ireland Correctional Service facility are staying integrated in society and earning back the trust of the community through a partnership between Papua New Guinea Red Cross Society and the Papua New Guinea Correctional Service.


Through the prison’s rehabilitation programme a group of inmates, both male and female, help out at the Red Cross New Ireland branch, mostly assisting volunteers with corporate catering.


The detainees are paid a small stipend for their work, which Red Cross branch coordinator Lyle Alickson said helped them buy basic necessities.


“The branch pays the allowance to the detainees. Twenty-five per cent goes to Correctional Service and the rest is for the detainees. We try as much as possible to give all the inmates the opportunity to earn a little money,” Ms Alickson said.


“They are matched to the areas they have skills in and after their jail terms end we’d like them to return and be volunteers.”


Ms Alickson said the inmates are given an induction on the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement principles, values, roles, and responsibilities before they start helping at the New Ireland branch, and she hopes the relationship can be ongoing.


“The inmates shouldn’t be neglected and ignored. They are part of society. Red Cross has plans to roll out other programmes to inmates including first aid and disaster training. Hospitality will also be introduced to complement the catering programme,” she said.


Inmate Linda Kekes who is serving a four year jail term said she and her fellow inmates were not aware of all the work the Red Cross did before the programme started.


“We thought it is a place to give blood and assist people in small disasters. When we came in we experienced a lot of good and new things. Even though our families might not visit us regularly we found a new family at the Red Cross.


“The last time my family visited was in December 2015. They only visit when they find time to do so and other inmates are also in the same situation. Through the Red Cross work when we leave prison we can become changed citizens in our communities, provinces and country.”


Correctional Service Supervisor Sergeant Relvie Marengi said the prison’s rehabilitation programme taught inmates to be self-reliant and recognised them as human beings regardless of their status. It would also help them reintegrate into the general population.


“This is one way low risk inmates can indirectly express remorse and earn trust, respect and acceptance not only from those whom they have come into conflict with but also their communities. We are happy to partner with the Red Cross because it showcases the inmates’ talents in a positive way. In the meantime, the inmates are happy learning different recipes and hygienic practices,” she said.


“I want to thank the Red Cross. The partnership means a lot and this will definitely encourage inmates to become volunteers for a worthy cause.”