Assistant Superintendent of Prisons, Cedrick Moore (left)presenting certificates to two of the graduates of the course. (A Gaskin/BGIS)
Twenty-six inmates are now better equipped with the skills and tools necessary to re-enter society, thanks to Project Change, an initiative of Healing for the Soul Ministries (HFSM).?? The programme seeks to encourage key partners to facilitate the successful re-entry of former inmates into society.
In a graduation ceremony at Her Majesty’s Prison Dodds last Friday, the graduands – 13 females and 13 males, were lauded for their commitment and involvement in the programme. They were told by the featured speaker and Director of Project Change, Rev. Oral Walcott, that this was no ordinary graduation and they were no ordinary graduates.
He said: "I am honoured because this is a historic graduation as it is the first Project Change graduation…If I have learnt anything from working with Project Change [it] is that there is no telling where this project will lead.?? This is just the beginning of a journey."
The Director pointed out the ceremony was one with a difference. ??He said: "Usually, the graduates leave the ceremony and go on to another place, whether it is a new job, a new level in school or a new college.?? But when this ceremony is over you will remain here; some of you for a few months and some for as much as a couple of years.
"In light of that fact some persons may ask, ???so why have a graduation? What is the point?’ Well here is why we are having a graduation today – because where you are now is not where you are intended to be.?? We are here because your present location is not your final destination.?? That is the reason for Project Change and that is the reason we are celebrating with you today," Reverend Walcott underscored.
In addition, Assistant Superintendent of Prisons, Cedrick Moore praised HFSM for spearheading such an initiative and told its Director that both the Barbados
Prison Service and Project Change were working towards the same goals and purpose, which was the betterment of the inmates and the security of the Barbadian society.
Lamenting that society was still unforgiving when it came to the reintegration of former inmates, the prison official said groups such as HFSM and the Barbados Prison Service were instrumental in helping individuals become more accepting of past offenders.
He, therefore, urged the graduates to ???stay the course’ and to recognise that any decision they made to improve themselves would not only be beneficial to them but to their families and their country.