News / Africa

    Day Care Center Opens for Kenya's Female Prisoners

    Sign outside the new day care center at Langata Women's Prison in Nairobi, Kenya, January 23, 2013." (VOA/Jill Craig)
    Sign outside the new day care center at Langata Women's Prison in Nairobi, Kenya, January 23, 2013." (VOA/Jill Craig)
    Jill Craig
    Kenya’s only maximum-security female institution has opened a day care facility for inmates’ children under the age of four. Some were born in prison and, until now, have spent all their time with their mothers and the other prisoners.

    Within the city limits of Nairobi is the Langata Women’s Prison, housing women convicted of murder, assault, and drug smuggling, along with others found guilty of petty crimes.

    However, it is not just the women who live here. Some of them were pregnant before arriving to prison and delivered their babies behind bars. Others had small children who accompanied them to Langata.

    These children, whose other family members are either unable or unwilling to care for them, spend every moment of the day with their incarcerated mothers. That is, until this week, when a day care center was officially opened at the prison.

    Children of female prisoners celebrate the opening of a new day care facility at the Langata Women's Prison in Nairobi, Jan. 23, 2013.Children of female prisoners celebrate the opening of a new day care facility at the Langata Women's Prison in Nairobi, Jan. 23, 2013.
    x
    Children of female prisoners celebrate the opening of a new day care facility at the Langata Women's Prison in Nairobi, Jan. 23, 2013.
    Children of female prisoners celebrate the opening of a new day care facility at the Langata Women's Prison in Nairobi, Jan. 23, 2013.
    Against the colorful backdrop of the new playroom, filled with toys and games, Jane Kuria says that the new center will greatly improve the children’s lives. Kuria is the CEO of the Faraja Foundation, an organization that helps the needy in Kenya, including prisoners.

    “Basically they can spend the whole day, eating nutritious food alone, play alone amongst themselves, and in the evening, go back to be with their mothers. That is what drove us to do this project," said Kuria.

    Margaret Ngunjiri has served as the Officer in Charge of the prison for the last two years. She says she is pleased to open the day-care facility as a way to help these children who are not guilty of any crimes.  

    “Of course it’s difficult because a child is innocent, she has no committal warrants [conviction documents], she is innocent." Ngunjiri. "But to see, the environment is what is not very nice, because the child is supposed to be with the rest of the children, playing, some freedom but not in confinement.”

    This confinement is one of the reasons why Father Peter Meienberg, the founder of Faraja, spearheaded the effort to build the center.

    “I felt that the children had a right to live the ordinary life of a child, and they were deprived of that, said Meienberg. "They stayed with their poor mothers for 24 hours a day, they listened to all the negative things they heard…and so I decided that something has to be done. They have a right to live the ordinary life of a child.”

    Kuria says that day care will not only help the children; their mothers will also benefit from this new addition to the prison.

    “In my view, I think this is very good, even for the mothers whose children are here, because of even their own psychological well-being. Because sometimes, as a mother, you want to be away from your child for just a while, so you can also find time to think about your life, think about what really is going on, in you, even without this child," she said. "So it would be very healthy for the mothers to have their children just away for a whole five hours, five to eight hours a day, because I know children are growing up, and the women, among themselves, can deal with their own issues.”

    According to Kuria, the center is so nice that she worries about the children’s reintegration after they leave the prison.

    “After they get used to this kind of environment, what happens when they get back to the society, where this may not be available? So this is something we have to deal with because obviously back home, or where they will go, if their mothers are still in prison, it may be very different from what we are exposing them to," Kuria said.

    There are roughly 700 women incarcerated at Langata Women’s Prison and more than 45 children under the age of four who live there with their mothers.

    You May Like

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    Are US Schools Turning a Blind Eye to Radical Qatari Preachers?

    Parade of radical Islamist clerics using mosque at Qatar’s Education City draws mounting criticism for American universities that maintain satellite branches there

    South Pole Diary: In Round-the-clock Darkness, Radiant Moon Shines Like the Sun

    You hear more and see more when the moon first comes out; it’s your senses in overdrive, tuning into a new world.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora