By Aisha Tamba
& Zainab Sesay
GIZ International Services, a German development agency and partners recently launched a skills development programme for 80 inmates of Mile II prison.
The programme is within the framework of the EU-funded ‘Tekki Fii’ Project, which hopes to make young Gambians see the benefits of choosing to ‘Make It Here’ – or Tekki Fii in Wolof – by tapping into economic opportunities in the country rather than embarking on perilous sea journeys to reach Europe in search of “so-called greener pastures”.
In partnership with Ministry of Interior, Mile II authorities and Insight Training Centre, the programme will train at least 80 detainees on brick-laying concreting, tiling, plastering, satellite installation and garment-making. The course will run for a period of 9-12 months.
Interior minister Ebrima Mballow said the correctional institution accommodates about 500 detainees of different age brackets.
He said it is therefore a government priority to have these captives trained on different life skills that would shape them and become better and independent persons, including becoming self-employed and productive citizens when reintegrated into the communities.
“Consequently, this will mitigate their risk of returning to being criminals and help them become role models in society,” minister Mballow hopes.
The director general of the Gambia Prison Services, Asumana Manneh, expressed hope that the training would bring about “great impetus” in the lives of inmates. It will also “reform their mindset,” he added.
He said the connotation ‘Make it in The Gambia’ should be a slogan for every young person who sees no light at the end of the tunnel in The Gambia.
“A prison officer is always happy to see that inmates are released so that the work load on them decreases,” he stated.
Ismaila Ceesay, principal of Insight Training Centre, said the purpose of his institution’s collaboration is to provide skills and knowledge to inmates before the end of their respective jail terms.
“So that they will walk out of jail with some degree of skills and knowledge,” he said.
Recalling that the collaboration with the Ministry of Interior and prison authorities started in 2012, Ceesay said a first batch of 25 inmates graduated in 2017, with another 43 in November 2018.
“Some weeks ago a high prison authority told the TRRC that all the ex-convicts who have been trained by Insight Training Centre are doing well in society,” Ceesay elatedly stated.
Fabio Germano, team leader of GIZ, congratulated the 80 trainees who successfully applied and were selected for the training. He said the four training courses are considered trades with a “high-make value that is with a high demand in The Gambian economy”.
“We admire you all for your courage and above all your determination to make up for your past and invest in your future,” Germano told the convicts.
“This is indeed the best way to rebuild the trust of the society and rebuild yourself confidence,” he advised.
GIZ International Services is one of the implementing partners of the ‘Tekki Fii’ project being sponsored by the EU through its Trust Fund for Africa.