Sat | Feb 17, 2018

'Tis the season to give and forgive - Charles Jr

Published:Monday | December 25, 2017 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju
State Minister in the Ministry of National Security, Pearnel Charles Jr (centre) presents a care package to an inmate of the Tamarind Farm Adult Correctional Centre, St Catherine on Thursday. Looking is Joyce Stone, deputy commissioner of custodial services, Department of Correctional Services.

It was a small gesture spearhead by Minister of State in the Ministry of National Security Pearnel Charles Jr but for the 188 inmates at the Tamarind Farm Adult Correctional Centre, St Catherine, the personal care items they received on Thursday are a big deal.

“I wouldn’t have got any at all and that is why I am most thankful to the people who made it possible. This makes big difference at this time of the year,” an inmate who has not received any visits or other form of support from his family since being incarcerated some nine months ago. This is especially hard on him, since being from the Corporate Area, getting to the penal institution is quite easy, even by public transportation.

Obviously moved by the kindness of strangers, he spoke to the impact of this gesture on the inmates.

“It provides us with the necessary hygiene during this festive season and when we have our baths we can put on our roll-on and brush out teeth properly and socialize with other inmates. So it helps to boost my self-esteem and by extension other inmates’ self-esteem and confidence; the fact that there are other people in society who care about us. And so we should abandon our type of lifestyle, so it is encouraging in a way for us all and we are happy for it.”

Meanwhile, Charles Jr used the opportunity to encourage the inmates to look beyond the economic cost of the gift items, as valued as they might be.

“Christmas is a season for giving and forgiving,” he declared, charging the inmates to use this holiday period for serious introspection. “You can’t forgive others if you do not look in the mirror and say,’ I am sorry’, because I know and should have done better and once you reset your own thinking, and forgive yourselves for whatever it is you did. I don’t care what you did; then you can forgive anybody else who contributed to you being here.

“Whether it is a father who was not there;  a mother who used to beat you; a friend who dragged you with them into a situation; a girl friend who did something  to you  - anybody else who abused you physically, mentally, emotionally and caused you to  being here. You can give them the forgiveness that they sometimes do not deserve but you deserve to forgive them.

He continued: “Once you reach that place, then you can understand truly what we’re doing with these packages. We are trying to give you a representation that you are valued. Just as valued as any of us who sit down on this platform wearing a suit or call ourselves minister or anything,” Charles Jr challenged the inmates, during a wide ranging and well received keynote address.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com