Wednesday 13 September 2017

A Prison Invited Event - 'Di Belakang Tirai Besi'

It was not a normal Wednesday for us, me and Jai. It's not like Iraq invitation to where the barren land of the desert meets the eyes…and war.

This is a different kind of war. A war in oneself to refrain from making mistakes.. again and lives normally as a ‘free’ person.

On the 26th July, we got an invitation from a prison in Sungai Petani. Calls and e mails are the contacts that I made with them, the prison personnel. Until we went there.

Probably many of us are not aware the presence of schools in prison. As a means of giving them… the second chance in life. The teachers that are assigned will teach the prison kids. We met the teachers who shared with us the challenges and stories of the students.
The many backgrounds and the mistakes that cost them their precious ‘freedom’. The schools in are called Sekolah Integriti and Sekolah Henry Gurney. All are age below 21. 

Some are involved in heavy cases, some are light cases. Once in.. they realized the price you pay for crime is heavy. 

We walked past the single wooden door upon entry, then it was locked. After body check, all our belongings (including cameras, handphones) are left in a locker and entry to the prison area was allowed. Passing through a double gated mesh wire door, we passed a young boys group of red attired jail uniform squatting down. We were told it's one way to easily react should one of them be aggressive. I gulp at the thought.

We passed in an area where many uniformed prison staff holding batons standing. It is the main area of officiating this occasion where they had invited us earlier. A collaboration with their education sector – ours is the science show as judges.

We were escorted with four prison staff to the school compound. Passing another gate (locked again) we reached the school compound. High walls surrounding was very prominent. The feeling and ambiance of being locked are everywhere. 

We went to a hall like room and the door is locked again. The windows are covered with mesh wires. Then the Science Show begins, and we are the judges along with a science teacher from a prison school in Sabah. 5 teams presented and the winner is from Sekolah Integriti Kajang.
The winner was good at explaining the science concepts with the demos. Looking at them, one will just wonder what crime has been committed. 

We stayed until the prize giving ceremony finished with the VIP, the Director of Prison Malaysia, Dato Sri Haji Zulkifli bin Omar.

Before the prize giving, a 9 A students age 19, winning Champion in the Speech Competition,  gave a heart tugging speech…. Part of it is this… “Now I realize my mom has sacrificed so much for me, keeping my spirit high even in prison.. she was there when I did well in my studies..and she was there when I am at my lowest... I want to thank you mom..for all your support..for all your sacrifices.. even though I am not sure whether .. I 'll be set free or face the gallows…”

I asked the person next to me..why is he in..the reply was, he was a drug dealer during his first year as a student in the university.

We headed out through many doors.. emerging out to see ‘freedom’. So different from being inside many mesh wires, many locked doors, and high walls…My thoughts were we have to help these kids from getting into the wrong ways. And also to remind all of us, if we know anyone heading that wrong direction if there is a way to help.. we should. 

Shared by Fozi Wazir
Guest Blogger

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