left to right: Justin Mabouth (Cameroon), Sr. Joe Eke(Nigeria), Rev. Simeon Muhunga (Congo), and Rev. John Ngabo(Rwanda)
BY CHRISTINE ROSS
Calling their Kingston experience memorable, four African Prison Chaplains have returned home to share new insights into prison justice.
Kingston is a long way from home for the chaplains, who lived among the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul while they studied restorative justice at Queen’s University.
These international visits are organized by Just Equipping, a Canadian registered charity committed to educating and training other countries about restorative justice.
Sister Josephine Eke from Nigeria is the only female in the group. Sister and the others, Justin Mabouth from Cameroon, John Ngabo from Rwanda, and Simon Muhunga from Congo arrived on May 5th.
Sr. Joe says in Africa, they focus on warehousing inmates. In Canada, she and the others, are learning rehabilitation and return to society.
“We are learning to become effective in our ministry to bring about reconciliation, restore broken relationships, truth telling and repairing wrong among our people with God’s grace,” says Sr. Joe.
John Ngabo has been to Kingston once before in 2005 visiting inmates at Bath Institution. As a result of his visit, Bath inmates raised $1,000 for inmates internationally. Two hundred dollars were sent to inmates at an institution in Rwanda, where John works. He extends a heartfelt thank you to Bath Institution.
They point to Canada’s sentencing circles within Aboriginal communities and youth diversion programs as successful restorative justice measures.
After getting a first hand look at these effective methods, and earning a diploma in restorative justice from Queen’s, they plan to adopt the Canadian prison model — with some modifications, to suit their culture at home. It will be a tough sell convincing police, lawyers, judges and governments that there is a better way.
The group also travelled to Toronto, Quebec City and Montreal, to gain practical experience in other community based initiatives.
The month in Kingston wasn’t all work.
“We took a Thousand Islands Cruise, visited Lake on the Mountain, and enjoyed the beauty of Canada,” says Sr. Joe. “All work without play equals workaholism.”
They thanked the Sisters of Providence, in particular Sr. Catherine Casey, for the wonderul hospitality during their visit to Providence Motherhouse. At the last supper they shared with the Sisters, two of the guests sang their gratitude in Swahili, dressed in colourful native costumes. Dr. Pierre Allard, president of Just Equipping, ate breakfast at the Motherhouse one morning, and reiterated his gratitude.