As part of Women in Action’s (WiA) social work during August, the pink ladies always visit women at the Kgosi Mampuru II Female Correctional Facility in Pretoria, acknowledging that they too should celebrate women’s month.
Spending most of the day with 268 offenders and correctional services officers, the team encouraged and motivated the women, entertaining them, serving lunch and giving them toiletries.
The event was opened in prayer by Chaplain Manaka who thanked WiA for their ongoing assistance and care over the last seven years. He said: “We regard you as colleagues and friends. The work you do fits well into the framework of the Department of Correctional Services objective to ensure that inmates have access to relevant programmes for their rehabilitation. You help us realise our dream of rehabilitating all the inmates and assisting them with a seamless reintegration into their respective communities.”
Both Women in Action and the Department of Correctional Services provided elements of the entertainment including a performance by the WiA choir.
Marcia Pires gave an inspiring motivational speech themed: The worst kind of violence. She said: “We always hear of, and are saddened by, news of violent acts perpetrated against women and children. We are also disturbed by reports of women inflicting pain on themselves, through suicidal attempts and self-mutilation. However, there is another kind of violence that you can inflict on yourself while you are incarcerated: hopelessness.”
Giving advice on how to move from hopelessness to hope, she said: “Change is always difficult, but with God’s help, it is possible to free our minds from thoughts that keep us trapped in the past and work towards a different future.”
She suggested that inmates may choose to get through their incarceration in survival mode, but this prevents them from learning from their mistakes and making positive changes. Others get trapped in destructive thoughts and self-hatred which prevents them from giving themselves a second chance. She said: ”Part of the rehabilitation process requires that you take responsibility for your actions and understand why your choices resulted in your incarceration, but you need to reach a point of acceptance and commit to real change. This will equip and empower you for your new life where you can make positive choices.”
Summarising her message she said: Choose to let go. Choose to stop condemning yourself. Choose to be different. Choose to give yourself that second chance.
The Prison Ministry group has been running the Nothing to Lose course in correctional centres for many years and three women shared testimonies of how the course had changed their lives. Certificates of completion were presented to 18 women who had attended the Nothing to Lose 3 course.
The Women in Action team left the correctional centre, knowing they had encouraged the inmates to make positive changes and helped them to find renewed hope.