THE nation at large has the responsibility to nurture and parent children who have lost their parents and guardians to crime, Prison Outreach Support Trust national co-ordinator Wilson Femayi has said.

BY LORRAINE MUROMO

Speaking at an early Christmas gathering for children whose parents are incarcerated held at Greatstride College in Harare recently, Femayi said the community has a role to play in safeguarding the interests of children.

“The church, the civic society and the corporate world have a fundamental role to play in ensuring that they end discrimination against these innocent children,” Femayi said.

“They are just victims of circumstances and should not be judged and discriminated against based on the mistakes made by their parents. Children should be free to be children.”

Femayi said education was a basic right that should be extended to these children as a means of protecting them from the harsh environment.

“This project has been helpful towards rehabilitation of inmates as they have peace of mind that their children and families were being taken care of.”

“Cases of inmates who die due to stress-related diseases have reduced too and marriages are being salvaged (as well),” Femayi said.

He, however, said as a trust, they require consent and authority from the parents, hence they had to sign consent forms.

Femayi said this helped the trust to gain access to the children and assist their families.

“We have data collection forms signed by inmates whereby they voluntarily provide information that enables us to identify and locate their children. This helps boost their confidence as they still felt that they were in control of their families and destinies,” he said, adding that beneficiaries have learnt life skills which made it possible for them to cope in the absence of the breadwinner.

Femayi said this year the party ran under the theme Angel Tree, aimed at developing interaction as well as counselling.

“This event is done annually, but in between we have get-togethers where we meet with parents and guardians. We facilitate children and parent connection whereby we bring them over to see their parents and we Usually, take advantage of prison week,” Femayi said.

Prison Outreach Support Trust, an affiliate of Viva Network, has assisted 203 children under 12 years.