Kenya: Showing Mercy Through Prison Ministry
Originally Published on OMIWORLD.ORG
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Fr Fidele MUNKIELE is the Formation Director of the Kenya Mission and also a prison chaplain, a ministry which was dear to the heart of the young Father Eugene de Mazenod.
Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate are involved in prison ministry in many locations in the world. It is in-line with our charism: to evangelize the poor, the most abandoned. In Kenya, the Oblates are ministering in the Nairobi Langatta Women’s Prison.
Our ministry consists of attending to the prisoners’ spiritual needs (Masses, the Sacraments), pastoral needs, social welfare and psychological care. It’s a challenging ministry because it involves time, material means and presence. We assist them with their basic needs: soap, toiletries, shoes, medicines.
Many women are convicted because of crimes (minor or major) committed on the basis of the poverty and joblessness in their lives. Desperation leads them to do anything they can, in order to survive. Many are single mothers, and some are young ladies. Other women are there because of poor legal representation due to poverty.
Our ministry gives them the opportunity to reform their lives and to counsel them, so that, once they are free, they can live a normal, healthy life. Those who leave, after serving their sentence for many years, receive no help from the government or society – they are often rejected by their own families. The Oblates try to assist them with small amounts of money so they can start a small, simple, business in order to survive. Some have children who, unfortunately, cannot access education.
We all know that water means life. In June this year, we were able to provide a 8,000 litre tank at the Women’s Prison which has a problem providing adequate water to the women, some of whom have small children or babies to care for. The gift brought tears of joy to the prisoners and staff alike.