In prison, isolation with few distractions can be exhausting. Contemplating life alone and away from the world between four walls and behind prison bars, prisoners sometimes hold little hope for the future. Everyday is the same.

Mohammed, trainee in mobile phone maintenance. | Photo Credit: UNDP Yemen/2020

 

In his mid-20’s, Mohammad found himself in the Mansoura Central Correctional Facility in Aden. Faced with a criminal case, Mohammad felt his dreams were over and he stopped all his ambitions and hopes.

Accompanied by almost 600 inmates, Mohammad spent his time sleeping and sitting idly, the memory of his university studies far behind.

Like many others, poverty drove Mohammad toward criminal activity. With limited professional career options available, he felt he had to take drastic and dangerous action to support himself and his family. 

Today, Mohammad is coming to realise that there is a whole spectrum of job options in industries he never considered. Together, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Yemen National Prisoner Foundation – a civil society organization specializing in prisoner reform and integration into society – are introducing new life into prisons and inspiring prisoners to learn new crafts to help with employment after release. 

Mohammad recently enrolled in a mobile phone maintenance course, one of 24 training courses offered within the Strengthening Security and Protection Project in Aden and Mukalla correctional facilities. The first of its kind in Yemen, the project aims to re-humanise the prisoners and ensure that they can contribute positively to society after release.

Rami Salmin, course trainer and master of electronic sciences. | Photo Credit: UNDP Yemen/2020

 

Statistically, education and training have been shown to significantly decrease the percentage of prisoners who commit new offenses and return to the prison system. These trainees participate in an 120-hour integrated course over a one and a half month period – most in practical application.

"I joined the mobile phone maintenance course to better myself. The most important thing is to be able to find a source of income after my release from prison," explains Mohammad. "In prison, I learned what I never had a chance to learn outside. This course represents an important gateway for me to get a job after release.” 

But it’s not only the job prospects that brings hope to prisioners, the distraction from a typically dark experience also has a positive psychological impact for many. For Mohammad, pain turned into hope, and despair turned into joy. 

Trainees listen closely as Rami, their trainer, presents in class. | Photo Credit: UNDP Yemen/2020

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This project is implemented through the UNDP Rule of Law Programme (RoL), which aims to support local populations to create a functioning level of security and stability while preventing further deterioration, and laying foundations for future initiatives, when conditions allow. The programme works to support safety, security, protection and equitable access to justice at the local level.

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