The Uganda Reentry Guide Project

Wells of Hope in partnership with University of Illinois and in collaboration with Uganda prisons services carried out a research on the Uganda reentry guide for two weeks from 16th to 27th July. The research was a combination of activities but majorly about visiting the service providers. These were organizations and companies believed to have services that would help the incarcerated members once they have been released.

The research team was headed by Rebecca Ginsburg, a professor at the University of Illinois, Johnny Paige, an American researcher and four Ugandans namely: Shiphrah, Brian, Godfrey and Charles; making a team of six researchers and Patricia from Wells of Hope who was the Ugandan coordinator. These were the people who would go out to visit different service providers and carry out interviews. The interviews were about finding out if these service providers would offer any services that the incarcerated people would use or need, for example how a person who has been released from prison can obtain a national ID, counseling services, among others.

Before the actual research began, there was training for the researchers on 16th July. It was led by Rebecca who oriented the researchers on how to conduct the interviews and how to approach the service providers. The researchers had to do play roles and read different handouts before they set out for the research; and they conducted the research in pairs.
A Reentry Advisory Committee was formed to help to evaluate the daily activities while the research was being conducted. This composed of service providers, formerly incarcerated people and well wishers. During the research, there was a general committee called the Reentry Guide Research Council which comprised church leaders UPS officials and different organization members. They met once to talk about progress so far and a way forward. They discussed about the places that were visited then and how to make the project sustainable without relying on the University of Illinois or Rebecca because funds were not enough to continue sustaining it for a long period.

Rebecca and Johnny interacted with inmates at Upper prison Luzira and Women prison Luzira to also give them an update on the guide. They all expressed their thoughts about the guide and said it was a promising project and they were hopeful that once it comes out it will be a good thing for the incarcerated members and their families.

Rebecca Ginsburg and Jonny Paige interacting with inmates

Johnny encouraged them and motivated them that being in prison doesn’t mean that all hope is gone; that there is more to look out for. He told them that it’s them to change the people’s attitudes and perception about the people in prisons. He urged them to be good representatives for all incarcerated people. There were committees that were formed in both prisons and this was to make communication easy.

During the research, Rebecca interacted with the Commissioner General of Prisons Dr. Johnson Byabashaija; and she updated him about the progress of the research. The commissioner shared that Reentry is at the heart of every correctional institution. He said that there was a gap of reentry; and thanked Rebecca through the University of Illinois for helping Uganda get one.

Rebecca Ginsburg and Francis Ssuubi sharing a photo with Dr. Johnson Byabashaija, the Commissioner General of Prisons on 25th July 2018

We thank  Rebecca Ginsburg, the University of Illinois, the Uganda Prisons Service, Jonny Paige, the entire research team and everyone who has come on board to help in the research about the Reentry Guide for Uganda

Foster Care Program: Visit By Bethany Christian Programs

Sebilu Bodja interacting with the children at Wells of Hope Junior Schoool

On 12th and 13th July, Wells of Hope hosted Mr Sebilu Bodja and Corrie Sjoblom from Bethany Christian Services, Ethiopia. The aim of his visit was to assess the need for the Foster Care Programme for children with parents in prison, under Wells of Hope Care. During his visit, he interacted with mothers at Luzira Women prison (under Wells of Hope care and those whose children are in the prison day care centre), mothers of children with parents in prison in the FACE programme, the children at Wells of Hope Junior School and Wells of Hope staff at the secretariat/ head office.

At the prisons, mothers expressed their gratitude to Wells of Hope for the love, care and continued support towards their children; “I see Wells of Hope as a father, more so a mother because a mother does whatever it takes to ensure that her children are happy,” a mother said.
They all happily welcomed the new program; they said that they would prefer having their children spend the holidays with foster families who are not related to them to spending the holidays with their relatives because their relatives pose a danger to the children. One of the mothers said that if her children stayed with her relatives, there would be high chances of them returning to the terrible conditions they were in before joining Wells of Hope. The mothers expressed complete trust in Wells of Hope to choose families where their children would be cherished and loved; and want Wells of Hope to always monitor the foster families.
The mothers appreciated Wells of Hope for the support rendered to them; “we never imagined that someone would ever look at us as human beings. Our children should never reap the fruits of the crimes we committed,” a mother said.