Yesterday, Giampaolo and I went in Blantyre for a special event. First, we went to the DAPP office to see Cedric and wait for two other DIs, which were supposed to arrive from Chilangoma. With the help of another worker, we sorted books which could be good to donate to the prisonners of Blantyre. The weather was very hot and the bags were so full of books that I couldn’t manage alone to put one in the car. But, with team-work, we can do everything… 🙂
Sat behind, among the bags, we all arrived in Blantyre jail. Soon, some staff members introduced themselves to us. They were very welcoming, willing to discuss with us. Sometimes, it was difficult to understand what they were saying, because of their accent…
When we entered, we had to give our phones to one of the staff, because taking photos isn’t allowed. We entered to the jail director’s office, who was also very nice. We introduced to each others and the man said how he was happy that people like us came to make book donations, that he would like that it continues in the future. Later, he asked some prisonners to take the bags to the library. And, what an amazing library !
We entered inside the library. I was surprised by the number of books inside and by their content. A lot of them dealt with school academics, especially mathematics and science. I could see how it was important for them to acquire knowledge as a way to change people’s life. Even our guide was saying “We have to treat them as human beings, if we want them to change for the better.” For me, it is a very important sentence, for several reasons. First because of the high rate of Malawian who don’t have access to education, second because prisons, in collective imagination, are depicted as the place where “alienated people” (those who don’t deserve to be treated as human) have to pay for their “horrible acts”.
Before, at the idea to visit a prison, I was scared. But when I entered and saw all these people, I just saw human beings.
In the second part of the library, in another room, there was a few aligned tables, where some prisoners were writing or reading. I could see that other organizations also made donations. There were some sewing machines from China. We were told that they were used to make shoes. There was a computer given by another organization (don’t ask me, I don’t remember…). These two rooms (the one where books were stored and the one where there were the tables) were very small. Only a small portion could have access to the building in the same time. It is only in this place that we were allowed to take photos.
For my part, I took some photos at the moment when our bags arrived in the library. I had a lot of fun making pseudo-official photos !
The second place where we were allowed to take photos was in the building where the prisonners’ artcrafts were exposed. There were some masks and some rings ( as soon as we arrived in the prison, the prisonner who made the rings beseeched us to buy some of them…). Finally, Cedric bought two rings (Me, I could make all the efforts but the rings were far too big for my fingers, what a shame !!! 😀 ).
Back to the jail responsible’s office, we discussed, signed and put some comments in the visitors’ book. The director said that if we wanted to come back for a donation, we would be welcomed. As it is a very nice experience, I would like to go back again, but this time with my future students… :