HomeUncategorizedShelved but still serving: Touching story of Zimbabwe’s Messiah to ‘College’ Inmates!

Shelved but still serving: Touching story of Zimbabwe’s Messiah to ‘College’ Inmates!

Shelved but still serving: Touching story of Zimbabwe’s Messiah to ‘College’ Inmates!

Wellington  Zimbowa

Johnson Muposhi is determined to ensure the full integration of ex-convicts in the main society, while ensuring that they get capacitated with life skills for self-sustenance for themselves and their families as well.

This vision, which he says was inspired by a strange dream back in 1998, led him to establish the Entrepreneurial Prison Trust (EPT).

“Our organisation stands for empowering the prison population with employment, livelihoods, and skills development for economic empowerment and peace.

“We offer psycho-social support for inmates, ex-inmates, and their families as well prison officers.

“In 1998, I had a dream wherein I was standing wearing robes with prisoners kneeling before me as I serve them,” said Muposhi founding executive director.

This led him to establish the organisation in 1998, but only got the PVO documents in 2016, due to the strict and elaborate processes that had to be followed, owing to the nature of the organisation’s interface with high-security areas such as prisons.

Already, the fruits of his determination with the government’s endorsement particularly through the  Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) are being noticed.

Between 2019 and 2020, his organization-thanks to the support of volunteer organisations won a grant from the United States of America Embassy in Harare.

This resulted in the opening of a Sewing Center in Harare’s Kuwadzana high-density suburb where ex-convicts trained through a ZPCS and PEDZ joint effort, whilst serving their jail terms are mentoring the community.

“Already, we have 76 graduates from the center, who are all from Kuwadzana.

“We thank the ZPCS and the US embassy for this success as the initiative has gone a long way in demystifying the myth around ex-inmates as social outcasts.

“The community is now appreciating the life capacitating skills that they got from their tutors, who are former inmates and this is helping in their socio-economic inclusion,” he said.

He added that during the emergence of COVID- 19 last year, the Sewing Center played a pivotal role in sewing face masks using the meager administration levies for the students, to distribute to some inmates.

The initiative was also partnered by a business organisation, Trade Kings, through donations of a washing detergent to encourage and ensure cleanliness.

“The detergent satchets could have been so small, but when you are in prison you would know how this was very special,” added Mukoshi.

He added that his organisation also supports trained inmates to undergo trade testing in their chosen trade choices under the HEXICO body.

However, noting that the majority of ex-convicts pardoned on Presidential Amnesty quickly find their way back to the dungeons, through societal resistance to reintegrate them. The organisation is geared towards broadening the capacity scale to its constituency.

“We are appealing to the government to give us land so that we create ‘halfway homes’ to cater for those just released from jail,” he said.

It was noticed that about 75 percent of inmates have their families broken up and face resistance upon leaving jail for their homes.

Thus, the envisioned farm will ensure that the organisation offers temporary homes where recent jail releases can be housed while the PEDZ sends social workers to their families and homes to prepare for their union.

Whilst at the farm, the former prison birds can utilise farming skills ingrained into them through the ZPCS to raise funds for venturing into small businesses once they reunite with society.

PEDZ is also mulling commercialisation of its sewing center to ensure the viability of its operations since funding is scarce, while also replicating the project in the county’s 10 provinces.

Muposhi is grateful to Engineer Wilbert Mubayiwa for the generous support for the organisation through leasing out his premises for PEDZ  free of charge.

“But the sorry part is that the man had two marriages that collapsed as the former wives complained about his preoccupation with ‘something not beneficial and resource-draining.”

But the determination remains unscathed: “If you want anything in life nothing can deter you.”

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