..sensitises public on stigmatisation
A serving corps member in Ekiti State, Anuoluwa Elizabeth Balogun, has empowered ex-convicts in the state with tools in various skills, as her Personal Community Development Service, CDS, project in the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC.
Balogun, whose passion was borne out as a result of the numerous psychological challenges ex-convicts faced when released from prison, such as stigmatisation, discrimination, isolation, and instaiility, embarked on the seamless project to make an impact in her immediate environment.
The ex-convicts were presented with the tools at the one-day sensitisation programme tagged “Sensitisation of the Public Against Stigmatisation of the Ex-Convicts,” in Ado-Ekiti, on Wednesday.
In her address at the event, Balogun said that the project is to rehabilitate, reform and reintegrate the ex-convicts, while urging the Federal Government and other relevant stakeholders to map out programmes towards their proper reintegration into the society.
Balogun added that during her pre-release counselling sessions with the ex-convicts, she discovered that the various offenses they committed were as a result of poverty, improper upbringing, etc.
She said: “This project is set to rehabilate, reform, and reintegrate a sizeable number of ex-convicts in Ekiti State. It is a smaller version of the big institution I have in mind, which the Federal Government and the State Government should take up, being also ably supported by individuals in the society.
“During the one month pre-release counselling sessions with the inmates, with the professional services, I realised that most of the crimes committed was as a result of poverty, poor upbringing and a bad influence.
“It is on this note that I urge the government to have a well structured rehabilitation centre for them in the custodial centre, so that the psychology of the name is not just being changed but a lot being changed about them by getting them upskilled with also a lot of therapy sessions.”
On her part, the NYSC Ekiti State Coordinator, Mary Nenna Chikezie, lauded the efforts of Balogun noting that it is in tandem with the reasons behind the formation of the scheme.
Chikezie enjoined the teeming public to assist corps members who are embarking in their personal CDS projects while urging them to desist from stigmitising ex-convicts.
Chikezie said: “One of the virtues is the empathy, we encourage them to wear the shoes of the other person and know how it pinches and that is exactly what Balogun has done – translating the theories in camp into action.
“One of the things they do is carry out personal CDS project and what she has done is the personal CDS project. We encourage them to get into their host communities, live with them, identity their problems and help them proffer solutions.
“She has actually tried by her actions, she has spoken to not just the people in Ekiti State, but to every Nigerian. Let us not stigmatize ex-convicts. It is a spiritual one.”
The event which was in partnership with the National Orientation Agency, NOA, Ekiti State Directorate, had paper presentations on the theme: “The Prevention of Recividism and Social Reintegration of Ex-convicts” by CC, J.O Ojo, Comptroller, Ado-Ekiti Custodial Centre, Dr Bukola Ajayi, Clinical Psychologist, Ekiti State University and Barrister Tosin Ayo, Principal Partner, Castles and Temples.