By Ibironke Ariyo
Spouses and children of Nigeria Correction Service’s inmates have commended the Prison Fellowship International (PFI) and Prison Fellowship Nigeria (PFNig) for providing succour for them in their trying moments.
They gave the commendation at the end of a two-day Children Holiday Camp for indigent children of inmates in Suleja, organised by Niger PFNig.
The programme dubbed: “The PromisePath Children Education Programme” with this year’s theme: “Precious to God,” is designed for children who are vulnerable and marginalized.
They said their lives would have been unbearable, without the support of PFI and its Nigerian affiliate, PFNig, especially as their bread-winners are incarcerated.
The women testified that PFI and PFNig had helped in ensuring their out of school children returned to the classroom.
Mrs Beatrice Aigbologa from Suleja said the faith-based organisation had helped in wiping away their tears.
“I want to thank Prison Fellowship International and Prison Fellowship Nigeria, Niger State Chapter, they have done a lot for us.
“They bring joy to our lives, pay our children’s school fees, provide financial and spiritual support to our families.
“They come around to visit us once in a while,” she said.
Also, Mrs Ngozi Obasi from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) said PFI and PFNig have given the families of incarcerated people a sense of belonging in the society.
“I appreciate the chairman and other coordinators for their deeds and words of encouragement to us especially during the absence of our husband’s and fathers.
“It has not been easy for our families, but, the PFI and PFNig, Niger State Chapter, have been there for us.
“However, I would like to appeal to the organization to consider setting up in business, wives of inmates, because we lost our source of income due to our husbands incarceration.”
Similarly, Mrs Vero Nwabueze paid kudos to PFI and PFNig officials for spending their time and resources to uplift lives of indigent families of the inmates.
Also Master Taye Aigbologa said if it had not been through the help of PFNig Niger State, he and his siblings would have been out of school.
“I am one of the beneficiaries and I want to thank them for their support, may God continue to strengthen them.”
Earlier, the PFNig Niger State Chairman, Pastor Peter Okere, decried the rate of out-of-school children in the country.
He said that, “Nigeria is reported to have the highest number of out of school children in sub-Saharan Africa with millions of children of schooling age out of school.
“Our youth campaign programme which includes catch them young, a crime prevention initiative aligns perfectly with the PromisePath Programme and is our contribution to reduce the number of out-of-school children.
“lt is to this end we embarked on this programme since three years ago to bridge the gap by providing for their educational and other social needs.
“Here in Niger State, we have a total of 71 children currently in our list from Suleja, Minna and Lapai custodial centres.
“Both Muslims and Christians are benefiting from this programme.”
He further said that through the PromisePath Programme, PFI and PFNig sought to ensure that vulnerable children receive essential supports in the areas of education, safety, health, social and emotional resilience, all within the care of their family units.
“The PromisePath Programme is focused on Improving access to, and participation in education.
“Others are improving important social connection through supportive relationships with local volunteers, interaction with peers, and some form of connection with the incarcerated parents.
“Also, it seeks to improve on spiritual and personal development through mentoring, discipleship, and connection with the local church community.
“Beneficiaries of the PromisePath programme are between the ages of 4 and 18 in public primary and secondary schools in Nigeria and whose parents are incarcerated”
Pastor Okere further observed that the programme has wide-ranging impact on the lives of children and their parents.
“lt has also helped to break the cycle of ignorance, poverty and crime within their families and society at large.
“I want to use this opportunity to encourage children to embrace this programme with all seriousness, study hard to excel so that they can tell their success story tomorrow.”
Also, the camp coordinator, Pastor Dele Olude, said the purpose of the programme was to “show the children of inmates incarcerated in our correctional facilities, whom we are sponsoring their education, that God loves them with an everlasting love and how precious they are to Him”
A total of 46 children, 18 parents/guardians and 14 Prison Fellowship Volunteers attended the programme in Suleja Location being the first location in Niger State, the second location comes up on the 18th & 19th August, 2023 in Minna the State capital.
It was loaded with varieties including Bible drills, crafts and sports.
Deserving children and parents were presented with gifts and awards at the close of the programme.(NAN)