Invitation To Prison

Hi to all living in Davao City.  This is an invitation.  It is not a normal type of communication through these sites and I hope the moderators will allow it to post.

My wife works in the office of the Regional Governor of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in Cotabato.  Consequently she is away much of the week although she usually leaves me a list of tasks that I can choose to help her with, or should I chose to live dangerously, just simply ignore.  Very seldom do I outright ignore her orders.

As one of her numerous social work activities under the banner of the Davao City Alliance Gospel Church which she is a member of, she teaches livelihood activities to the women at Davao City Jail woman’s section known as the Ray of Hope Village.  Her teaching there includes developing skills that could help them earn money and become independent on release.  She teaches jewellery making, bead work and embroidery which they sell as part of their handicrafts stall.  And as some may have read elsewhere I have recently taught basic cake making!  I see it as a form of relaxation and  a productive way to fill in my time.

The jail has many groups visiting on a daily routine to preach from the Bible.  Religion is the predominant and reoccurring theme.  While it is OK for some, and it clearly serves a purpose, I have often wondered about the real value of it and its message considering it is so freely available on the outside yet so many are on the inside behind bars. 

I often speak/chat with the ladies and they told me that every day they are subjected to religious commentaries about the advantages and wonders of knowing the message of the Bible.  Most said that they wanted/preferred to learn something apart from religion that would teach them skills to help them to survive on the outside.  I often had thoughts along the same lines!

Some months back, my wife and the jail administrators called a meeting of all religious groups and at that meeting they agreed to combine their efforts to develop one particular major goal rather than all pulling in different directions.  After considerable discussion, the project they unanimously decided to support was an education program for the children of the detainees.  It was left up to the mothers to encourage their children to nominate themselves as potential beneficiaries of this program.  Currently 28 children are registered in the Scholarship Program. 

Being awarded a scholarship means that they will be supported financially and academically throughout their schooling.  All proper requirements will be meet under the scholarship and each individual child will be monitored weekly to ensure that they are performing well in their  classrooms, that home study is satisfactorily completed and that their social behaviour outside their classrooms is appropriate.  The aim is to also encourage them to move away from bad influences and focus on more productive activities

Weekend visits to their mothers are strongly encouraged to help the bonding process and that aspect is part of the program.  We hope that the child will discuss with the Mother what they have learned during the week and that the Mother or others detainees will teach/assist the child.  This is a Filipino way of life! It is a big expectation and huge commitment for the child but only the child itself can determine the outcome!  Any difficulties they are experiencing at school or home will be dealt with as appropriate. 

Already there are several businesses who have expressed a willingness to take part in this program.  Even individuals can sponsor a child. An annual cost is being calculated at this time.

Everyone in the jail is keen to be involved including the Senior Officer and her Staff.  Other fund raising activities (sales of handicrafts etc) assist each detainee with their basic daily needs but this will be a special fund raising occasion.  We are not talking of having to raise a few hundred pesos but we need thousands of pesos.

As far as the Scholarship Program fund raising is concerned, the jail detainees will perform a Variety Extravaganza featuring cultural dances and songs, situational plays, individual singers and dance groups and other entertaining items. A group of children will perform a hip-hop dance.  It is extremely well choreographed and highly entertaining. 

Davao City Jail women's section is a model jail and all who visit and inspect the faculties will be impressed.  The Variety Extravaganza performance will be a memorable experience and the opportunity to visit the jail does not arise frequently.

An actual date for the performance is yet to be determined but an afternoon performance around the middle of December is a rough guide. If interest is great enough a second and even a third performance can be arranged.  I guarantee you will not walk away from the show feeling disappointed or short changed. 

Admittance to the variety concert will be on a ticket only basis (200 pesos per person) and audience numbers will be restricted to around 100 per performance due to security and seating space requirements.  I will have approximately 30 tickets for the first performance.

I advise that some persons attending the jail for the first time may become emotionally upset to some degree.

Anyone wishing to reserve tickets can contact me at pfuller_2000@yahoo.com.

Cheers everyone and please support this worthy cause. 

Paul/Davao

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