A student Comboni missionary from Uganda shares his pastoral experience with young people in the Kamiti prison in Kenya.
Since 2016 I have been in Nairobi, Kenya, studying theology at the seminary. On Sundays I go to a prison in Kamiti, which is located on the outskirts of Nairobi. I visit the section of the prison that is dedicated to young men and women. Most of these young people are imprisoned for committing small crimes in their barrios. Some have already been found guilty, while others are still awaiting trials.
The majority of them lived on the streets and to ensure that they do not end up committing major crimes, they are held in jail, as a form of prevention.
In this prison they are given opportunities to learn skills, such as carpentry, mechanics, and gardening. The program these youth benefit from is very good. In many ways I wish that Uganda had a similar program as it would help some young people change their lives.
My primary job in the prison is to accompany these young people in their faith life and to let them know that they still belong to the church, even though the majority of them are street children who have lost contact with the church. We hope these children will rediscover their faith and return to be members of the church.
Being at this prison for only three or four months now, we have been able to teach them some things. We share with them our own life experiences, we pray with them and try to teach values like respect, and talk about the challenges the world faces and how they can play a role in making society a better place.
I consider these young people to be my brothers and sisters. I try to identify with them, listen a lot, play with them and when necessary help them with some of their essential purchases. I appreciate very much the work of the prison guards who assist us with this ministry. They are very committed to the boys and they consider themselves as their parents.
In the future I will visit the youth who I accompanied in the prison and also those who have left. I want to know their families and see how they have reintegrated into society. I have started to invite some of them to our formation house. Many of them have made great progress and have shared with me that they would like to be doctors, lawyers and etc… The fact that they see life with optimism and responsibility fills me with joy.