Without relevant skills and knowledge, a former detainee’s experience reintegrating back into society can be a challenging and discouraging one. Tostan’s Prison Project aims to better prepare detainees for this process by implementing an adapted version of the Community Empowerment Program (CEP) in five Senegalese prisons. Detainees participate in class sessions on human rights, problem-solving, health, and literacy as well as learn practical skills through different workshops and trainings. Upon release, some of the former inmates and CEP participants – for example, Modou (name changed) from Kaolack in West-Central Senegal – receive additional support from the Prison Project team.

Modou and his family come from an impoverished background, making a steady source of income upon release a necessity for his family. While in prison, Modou participated in the modified CEP classes and skills trainings, and once released he enrolled in the multi-purpose center for minors in his community. There he took a carpentry workshop to gain skills and experience in the trade.

During a visit by the Prison Project team in October 2013, the former detainee was given a support fund of 100 000 CFA ($212 USD) to enable him to start an income-generating activity. With the help of these funds and the staff from the multi-purpose center, Modou started a poultry farming business. In this business, he raises chicks until they are 46 days old and sells them to the staff in the multi-purpose center for a profit. With his income, he and the center’s staff members are reflecting on other income-generating activities that he could start at the same time as poultry farming, possibly incorporating his carpentry skills.

The center where he lives is only reserved for minors and because he has reached the authorized age limit, the Prison Project team and center staff is currently thinking about the best way to prepare him so he does not return to activities that could lead to incarceration. To this end, he will soon be attending a workshop outside of the center for minors to further develop his carpentry skills from a professional of the trade. The goal is for him to be able to provide for his family and for himself.

Story by Maïmouna Sougoulé, Assistant to the Prison Project, Tostan