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Church assists former inmate to start over

Published:Monday | April 2, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Alessandro Boyd, Gleaner Writer

The East Jamaica Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists Ministerial Fraternity, through its various projects, have been reaching out to the residents of Grants Pen, St Andrew.

Dr Meric Walker, president of the fraternity, said they chose Grants Pen based on a suggestion by a member of the fraternity. Recently, the men of the cloth provided a roof for an elderly man's house and set up a chicken coop in the community.

One of the recipients was 33-year-old Steven Harris. Harris was released from Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre (TSACC) last year after serving a seven-year sentence. During the final two years of his prison sentence, he participated in the Correctional Services Production Company (COSPROD) project, which seeks to provide rehabilitation for inmates through skills training in tending to broiler chicks.

Pastor Wadsworth McAnuff told The Gleaner that someone came and told him about a man who was released from the TSACC last year, that he needed help in setting up a chicken coop.

"We would like to commit to the community, as I believe in helping people, especially those who may have fallen on hard times. If he is going to do a chicken programme, then we have to help him find his way back in life," McAnuff commented.

Thankful beneficiary

Harris was grateful for the help.

"Imagine you're in a good job then get into problems. That's five years gone from my life. It's like my life was on pause and it just resumed. Most of my friends that I left behind before I went to prison are now dead. The time when mi did deh inna the rehabilitation programme, it help change mi mindset and make mi stop think 'bout certain things," argued Harris.

During the two years in COSPROD, Harris learnt how to raise both layer and broiler chickens. "The idea behind it is that I want to be self-employed. I don't really have education to do what I want to do, so I am doing what I learn," he said.