Our group has a developing relationship with a low-security prison in Lira, Uganda.
The inmates at the facility all have relately short sentences, less than 5 years. They wear bright yellow shorts and tops. So they’re easy to spot. The inmates are required to do physical labor outside the prison until about 1 pm and then they are returned to the compound for the afternoon and evening.
On my recent trip to Uganda, we borrowed 4 prisoners to help us with our playground installation activities at a nearby school for the deaf. The prisoners were all short-timers. Along with the prisoners, we got a guard. They helped with the assembly of a swing set, digging of holes, placing of concrete, and painting.
After we were through for the day, we headed to town and treated the prisoners and guard to a meal complete with milkshakes at a local restaurant.
The next day, the prisoners finished up the work at the school for the deaf. While I was in town buying supplies, 5 prisoners working in a nearby field decided to escape (not the ones working with us). One was soon found, but the other 4 were still missing when we left Lira. The circumstances surrounding the one prisoner’s capture were unnerving and our crew was seriously distracted for a short time. Despite the lock down imposed at the prison, our inmates were able to complete their work that day. After it was over we paid all 4 and the guard.
The next day, the prison was still in lock down, and we were unable to get additional prisoner assistance.
On a previous trip, we had purchased a TV and an LOS TV service for the prisoners. On this trip we renewed the TV service. The prison is scheduled to take over payments in 2017.