Wednesday, February 22, 2017
A Stitch In Time
In Uganda, prison sentences are particularly hard on women, many of them wrongly accused. Prisons are overcrowded and inmates are routinely cut off from family visits due to travel complications.
Many are single mothers like Joweliya. They need to rely on the generosity of family or friends who look after their children while they are incarcerated. Visits become a burden many of these 'foster' moms cannot bear.
When women are released from prison it's like starting over. They may not have a home to go home to. The world has moved on without them. Their kids are scattered and resettled in other families, most are struggling to get by.
Kevin Okoth, seen here, participated in a life skills program while incarcerated at Jinja prison. In the program she learned about business and computers. She also honed her tailoring and knitting skills.
Okoth was sent to prison after a neighbor accused her of robbing him at gun point. Without the funds to pay for lawyer Okoth was sent to the women's prison after being held for a week in a local holding cell. Finally, after three years in prison, the case was dismissed and Okoth was released.
During her sentence her children were cared for by family members. During that period none of the children were enrolled in school, unable to pay for books and school fees. They also had to pick up odd jobs to help financially in their temporary home.
For nearly a decade, Bikes for the World supported this project with bikes and sewing machines which helped create new lives for ex-offenders eager to start over. We contributed over 60 sewing machines to the Women's Prison Support Organization since 2007. Each donated machine helped provide valuable training classes, equipping young women with life skills to mend their lives. They also provided the means to start new small businesses to help these struggling mothers rebuild their families after years apart.