August 13, 2010
Prison Fellowship International launched in SVG

An organization which reaches out to prisoners, as well as to victims of crime, is soon to plant roots here.{{more}}

On Tuesday, August 3, a number of religious officials and corporate citizens gathered at the Church of the Nazarene in Arnos Vale to elect an Executive committee for the local branch of Prison Fellowship International.

Elected as Chairman of the Executive was Pastor Chieftain Charles, with his son Calvert Charles elected as Deputy Chairman.

Costian Cupid was elected Executive Director, with Ashakien Burgin the Secretary; Stepherine Durrant Treasurer and Public Relations Officer Pastor Lemmew Samuel.

Pastor Hazelle O’Garro was voted as the group’s counsellor and Man at Large is Pastor Julian Abraham.

The decision to bring the international organization to St. Vincent and the Grenadines came after a visit to Antigua and Barbuda by Cupid a few weeks ago.

Cupid enlisted the assistance of Antiguan Prison Fellowship International Chairman Reverend Dr. Edmund Green and Public Relations Officer Alfred Jeffery, who traveled here this week to facilitate the election of the executive.

Cupid, Green and Jeffrey on a visit to SEARCHLIGHT on Tuesday said that the organization could be beneficial for the reduction of crime in the country, since they not only interact with prisoners, but also persons who are at a risk of becoming criminals or re-offending.

“We go into the prison and we minister to the inmates,” Jeffery indicated. “We also offer seminars and counseling to them.”

“We go to schools and boys’ correctional facilities and talk to them about the prison so that we can prevent them from going in in the first place. But when they do go in, we are there to help them so they can fit back into society and get a job when they get out.”

Jeffery said that the organization also offers services to victims of crimes, as well as family members of both prisoners and victims.

Cupid indicated that he expects the Fellowship to be a huge success, saying that everyone on the executive is ready to get the project off the ground.

Prison Fellowship International was founded in the United States in 1976 by former prison inmate Charles Colson.

It is an interdenominational organization that is now found in 115 countries around the world, and was started in Antigua in 1998.

“We are all victims when a crime is committed,” Jeffery noted. “ We all pay for it in some way: psychologically or financially.”

“We want the St. Vincent and the Grenadines community to be aware that helping prisoners does not mean we are promoting or helping them to be in prison, but you are helping them from going back to prison.”(JJ)