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Lembani Radio

My name is Elijah Lembani, a former inmate from Mkushi district in Central province. When I committed a crime and was sent to prison, I thought my life had ended.  All my property was taken by people who thought I was not coming back, I lost all hope and felt I was going to die.

Soon after my imprisonment, I fell into depression as I struggled to deal with MY new reality in Prison. I kept wondering how my children would survive while I was in jail, it got so bad that I collapsed and had to be admitted at the prison clinic.

The Prison officers and fellow inmates consoled me and I slowly started accepting my situation and having a will to live again. After 5 years, I applied for parole and thankfully it was granted.

When I was released on parole, I was overjoyed to get back to my family and community. I thought my suffering had ended. However, that did not prove to be the case, upon my arrival, I noticed that people from my family and community were shunning me.  I was called a criminal and not someone to be trusted, no one wanted to do anything with me, I was avoided everywhere I went.

This was a very tough time for me as I felt alone and rejected by everyone. As I was struggling to integrate in the community, I heard that DAPP had a program that was helping ex-inmates get back into the communities. I promptly joined the program. 

DAPP officers visited my family and community and encouraged them to welcome and embrace me as a reformed person, who had positive things to contribute in society. Through these sensitization meetings by DAPP, things started to change. My family and community saw that I was not the same person who went to prison. I had reformed and was committed to live a positive life.

Further, DAPP encouraged myself and other former inmates to form club to support ourselves financially and we were given a project of Gardening. DAPP gave us a piece of land and all the inputs we needed to start our project. Our Gardens soon thrived such that members of the community are joining our club and learning from us. They have seen what we can do and how our lives have changed, the discrimination has stopped.

Apart from the Garden, I started working in my community sensitizing members about the law and how to integrate ex-inmates. Through this work, DAPP organized my participation in a radio program on Mkushi Radio station. I now talk on radio every week about in-mates, ex-inmates and how they can work together with communities to change lives.

Because of the help I received from DAPP, my life has completely changed, even people who once feared and avoided me now freely come to my house. We are working together with all former inmates and the community to make our lives better.

DAPP’S WORK IN RE-INTEGRATION

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Elijah Lembani is among 369 adults and juveniles who have a new outlook on life thanks to the ‘’Incarcerated Populations Rights to a Productive Future is their Human Right’’. A project funded by the European Union and implemented by DAPP Zambia to establish and strengthen systems on rehabilitation of inmates in Correctional Facilities and their reintegration process.

The project conducts activities to prepare families and communities where discharged inmates will be reintegrated into. The aim of this process is to engage and prepare them, as well as encourage support and acceptance of the former inmates into their society once more.

The project has established a total of 20 COOPERATIVES, as a way of improving their socio-economic status after their discharge with membership of 343 former inmates and 212 non-former inmates. From these, 11 Cooperatives have been empowered with funds which they have utilized to collectively purchase agriculture input, equipment or small livestock start-up businesses. Most of the groups have ventured into chicken rearing, which they have identified as lucrative.

The project involves Volunteer CHAMPIONS most of whom are former inmates identified in communities to encourage and spearhead community sensitization.

It reaches out to remote populations through Radio programs broadcast on community radio stations and presented by stakeholders from the Zambia Correctional Services, Civil Society Organizations, the clergy, former inmates and the other influential personalities within the districts.

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