By Isidore Abah
Inmates of the Buea Central Prison who are Christians of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon, PCC, have pleaded with the Moderator to have some of them trained as Pastors at the PCC seminary in Kumba.
The inmates believe that if some of them are trained as Pastors, upon graduation, they will come back to meet the spiritual needs of their colleagues back in prison. The inmates, through Abel Awahntim, made the request at the Buea Central Prison on July 17, while receiving sewing equipment from the PCC Moderator.
The equipment which consisted of five singer sewing machines, several meters of fabrics, thread, among other gifts, is aimed at boosting the tailoring workshop at the prison and providing the prisoners with an opportunity to learn skills that will enable them to easily integrate into the society upon their release from jail.
The inmates equally requested the PCC to employ some of them, especially those who are parents and widows, to avoid frustration when they regain their freedoms. They equally demanded for a liturgy and musical instruments to be used during Sunday service worship.
The inmates, however, thanked the Moderator for being the first ever PCC Moderator to visit inmates at the Buea Central Prison and said Asana’s stewardship has enhanced spiritual growth and accountability in the Church.
The PCC Moderator, Right Rev Dr Festus Ambe Asana, told the inmates that Christians of the PCC have decided to pay them a courtesy visit because they consider them to be useful to their families, the Church and the society at large.
He advised the detainees not to regard their incarceration as the end of life, but as an opportunity to be reformed. According to Asana, most great leaders in the world have once been prisoners, but left the prisons even better than they went in.
The Moderator said his visit to the Buea Central Prison was an outcome of a discussion held with the prison officials and some delegates from the Ministry of Territorial Administration some two years back. In their discussion, the officials expressed the need to have prisoners trained in various fields like tailoring, carpentry, arts, among others, and solicited help from the Church to accomplish this dream.
“Today, we have come to fulfill our promise,” the Moderator stated, urging the inmates to make good use of the equipment and ensuring its sustainability.
Earlier, in his welcome address, the Superintendent in charge of the Buea Central Prison, Thiery Joel Fopa, expressed gratitude to the Moderator for the equipment, adding that it will not only keep the inmates busy, but equally help them to acquire skills. He pledged to take proper care of the equipment and to make sure that the inmates take the training seriously, so that upon their release, they will be able to put what they have learnt into practice.
In a prison of close to 792 inmates, with 250 of them PCC Christians, Fopa used the occasion to thank the Moderator and the PCC for appointing a Chaplain to cater for spiritual and material needs of the detainees.
The Superintendent, nonetheless, pleaded with the Moderator and other Christians present to follow up the trained inmates and facilitate their insertion into the society when they are out of prison. He equally pleaded with the Moderator for the construction of a Church in the prison yard. This, Fopa said, will help to solve the problem of scrambling among denominations for Sunday services.
“The tailoring workshop used for Sunday services has become too small to accommodate all the Christian inmates,” Fopa stated.
Meanwhile, members of the Christian Women and Men Fellowship Associations that accompanied the Moderator to the Buea Central Prison carried along bags of rice, garri, vegetable oil, toiletries, bathing soap, cooked food and other items for the inmates.