Tuesday, December 09, 2008


For the love of God and humanity, my colleague, Kat Macleaod and I set off on an exciting adventure, one of those one will class as ordinary with a little extra, i.e. “extraordinary”. This adventure found us sitting in the office of the controller of Prison with a handwritten proposal to set up two recreational clubs with the inmates.

As usual, as it is with in most offices in Nigeria, we had to wait and wait outside the Controller's office while someone struggled with the bureaucracy. We watched the guards clad in tight, big, black boot that go half way up their calf, billowing green trousers, a rope over their shoulder and a tight belt containing spray or gun, shining their boots. To keep the harmattan away, one young guard carefully spent a few minutes rubbing his lips with lip gloss, for a split second, he looked very vulnerable just like the rest of us. It was an interesting sight.

Finally, the Controller came out and shouted “why have you kept them waiting?” to one of the guards. He took us to his office and read the letter. “Yes, I definitely approve this…!” This receptive and encouraging response gave us a sense of importance and gingered us for the task ahead.

The following weeks saw us working closely with the Prison guards, the inmates and other volunteers who shared our passion to reach out for those who seems cut off from the rest of the society! At the end of our 6-weeks activities in Jos Prison, all the 700 inmates and selected local guest assembled in the yard to watch the informative and educative drama performed by the male inmates. The 9 women, 8 of whom were still waiting trial were also granted a rare permission to enter the male dominated yard to watch the drama. While we busied with the men drama club, our volunteers-friends worked with the women on different skill acquisition trainings such as candle-making, soap-making etc.

Our aim was to empower everyone in Jos Prison with new skills and HIV and AIDS awareness so that their life can be different in days to come. Some of the Prisoners have been serving time for over 20years so it was vital they are equipped with the knowledge about HIV and AIDS, to protect themselves and others while in Prison and afterwards.

Our resounding achievement at the Jos Prison was made possible by the support of the Controller of Prisons and other officials, as well as the inmates and our volunteer friends, who were willing to look beyond our young age and sex, to contribute our quota to the community. The idea was sustained through the power of collaboration driven by passion. All we know is that a seed was planted in Jos Prison to grow. Here I am telling the jenniferized version of our experience as once told by Kat. The future is bright for all who dare to leap by faith.

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