Palawan inmates seek livelihood help from NGOs

August 29, 2010 1:47 pm 

By Celeste Anna R. Formoso

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, August 29 –- Around 25 detainees of the Palawan Provincial Jail (PPJ) actively involved in various livelihood activities are appealing to non-government organizations (NGOs) and private individuals to help them find market for their products to earn income for themselves while in incarceration.

The appeal was made by the detainees on Saturday during the implementation of the “Beyond Prison Walls” project of the JCI Puerto Princesa Peacock, Inc. which aims to support their livelihood by donating old newspapers, used plastic bottles, used sacks and others for handicraft-making.

Vivian Mediana, one of the active female detainees engaged in livelihood inside the provincial jail, said they have been producing bags out of discarded coffee and milk sachets, flower vases from plastic bottles, and other handicrafts, but many of their produce have been placed in a room that was made as a makeshift storage area due to lack of market opportunities.

Speaking in Tagalog, she said the detainees inside the PPJ are thankful for organizations like the JCI for continuously implementing projects that focus on helping those who seem to have lost hope because they have lived more than half of their lives in prison.

“Hindi niyo lang po alam kung gaano kami kasaya na kami ay mabisita niyo at matulungan sa maliit na kinabubuhay namin dito sa kulungan habang naghihintay kami ng desisyon sa aming mga kaso (You just don’t know how happy you’ve made all of us because of your help to our livelihood while we wait for the decision of the court regarding our cases),” said Mediana, who faces a murder case for the killing of a policeman here three years ago.

“Sana po ay matulungan niyo rin kami na maibenta ang aming nagawa ng mga handicrafts dito sa loob. Bagama’t may naibebenta din kami at natutulungan ng provincial government, lahat ng tulong mula sa mga NGOs ay kailangan naming (We hope you can also help us find market for our handicrafts. Even if we are also able to sell through the help of the provincial government, we still need more so we won’t just stock them),” said Bing Ong, another detainee.

Handicrafts-making is not the only livelihood activity that keeps inmates inside the PPJ busy. Many of them are also into organic gardening inside the over 2-hectare compound, planting lettuce, eggplants, pechay, and other crops, according to retired colonel Ramon Espina, the warden.

“We want them to be active despite the truth that they are jailed here. We want them to learn other livelihood activities so that when they go back outside, they have something to do,” Espina said.

He added that many of the detainees have no family visits which could mean that they do not have relatives to help them when they go back to the outside world.

“It’s a cruel world out there, and these people need help should they be found not guilty by the court. At least, we have done our part here in the jail; we have helped make them learn something where they can gain income,” he said.

Like Mediana, the warden also appealed to other organizations to help the detainees inside the PPJ in their livelihood.

“These 25 detainees are just some of the many batches we have taught livelihood projects here in the Palawan Provincial Jail. Right now, they already know how to make bags and other handicrafts, and what they just lack is the opportunity to market them. We can’t let them out, but there is a way we can all help them,” he added. (PNA)

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