–with insightful talk about the power of transformation
By Jeune Vankeric
THE tears flowed freely. Some wailed, while others sobbed openly.
It all happened on Thursday, designated Women’s International Day, when
Minister within the Ministry of Natural Resources, Ms Simona Broomes paid a visit to the New Amsterdam Prison, where she had a heart-to-heart talk with the women imprisoned there about the power of transformation.
“All of you join with me and start a transformation right here, right now!
“You see, when you go back over there,” she said, pointing in the general direction of the prison proper, “there is something behind that wall that you can touch and talk to that I cannot see.
“But I have the faith that you will stand with authority. As women, you do not belong in jail. Start it now! Transformation in Berbice!”
Minister Broomes, who is also an activist for the rights of women and girls, shared with her audience stories of her personal fights, one of which almost got her incarcerated.
“I missed this prison for fighting for women,”she said.
“I was arrested. I fought for some girls; I was assaulted, and they said they will lock me up; put me before the court and remand me.
“But you see, I had to be out there to come back here in this capacity to fight for transformation, for no government then could have imprisoned me.”
But to get back to the subject at hand, this being that jail is no place for a woman, she said:
“You don’t belong in jail. I do not care what are your circumstances; I do not care what you have done. I am not here to point out any crime you have done; you don’t belong here.
“You cannot take care of your children. Your daughter is punishing; you won’t be able to see her going under the table. You do not belong here; you have to start a transformation in this country.”
In closing, the minister urged the group of just under 100 women not to give up hope, for the battle in which they must engage is for those that they would have left behind.
“Don’t give up hope,” she said. “You can do it! None of you are failures!”
Taking up the charge from Minister Broomes was Director of Prisons Gladwin Samuels, who reminded the women of their value and purpose on earth through biblical references.
“You must have a sense of worth. You need to understand your value, so that you can contribute meaningfully to yourself, family and country,” he said.
He, however, made a very interesting observation, in that while the female prison population at New Amsterdam exceeds that of the males, yet still women prisoners over the last ten years have amounted to less than 100.
This caused him to joculularly opine that it was either women are not committing crime or that they are, but smarter than the men.
Noting that President Granger understands the value and importance of women in the home, Samuels said:
“If you fail to take advantage of opportunities, you are going to set a bad example to those who look up to you. So, purpose to be better! You must be a change agent when you leave prison!
“Some persons left prison and made it to the Office of the President. There is no limit to what you can achieve!”
Meanwhile, the programme was punctuated by cultural presentations, the distribution of gift bags, and one-and-one discussions with the Minister, along with photo opportunities.