Bellan foundation is a registered non-governmental organization, commissioned in the year 2007 as a unique prisons ministry keen on reaching out to women in state correctional facilities in Kenya, East Africa. It is built on the root of reconciliation through Christ. We are inspired into action from the scripture in Second Corinthians 5:18-19 “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”
Our point of engagement as a foundation began by crowd funding to purchase and donate some of the basic needs that the inmates needed like supply of toiletries, bathing soaps, bar soaps, sanitary towels, panties, braziers, petticoats, slippers, rubber shoes, etc. In 2015 however, we decided to take it a step further by reaching out to the issue that is of most concern to the incarcerated women. The children left behind as they serve their sentences.
We acknowledge the fact that the burden of jail term weighs on mothers more in regards to the state of their children. They get traumatized wondering if their children are feeding, going to school, or if their fathers are available for them and, if they are safe and well protected; more so the girl child who is most vulnerable. Children of prisoners, especially if the incarcerated individual was a bread winner, are deprived, stigmatized, victimized and more likely to follow suit if not given a sense of stability in their lives.
Our point of engagement has been to fill the gap by developing sustainable solutions that lay the foundation for the children to live dignified, productive and creative lives. First is through our education fund that ensures that the children of the incarcerated women benefiting from Bellan foundation are in school getting an education. Secondly is we have counselors that have partnered with us in offering the much needed counseling to both mother and children. Third is our relationships with children’s homes/interim homes within the city to cover for those living in extreme circumstances?
Another aspect of the ministry that is up and running is the ‘beyond bars starter pack’. We discovered that there was a bulk of soon to be former inmates that had nowhere to start from because they had close to nil support system to see them through their new lives. The state correctional facilities have programs to equip the inmates with primary technical skills for them to be productive individuals after serving their time. The challenge becomes the fiscal support required to venture into any business, managing the stigma that can be directed to them by members of society, and reconciliation of mind, heart and spirit.
Bellan foundation wants to minister to them by availing seed funding required, getting them to a good start in creating their own revenue streams. Secondly walking with them through the reconciliation process with a guidance and counseling program developed by our partners within the structure of Bellan foundation and thirdly, sharing the love of Christ our Lord who forgives and restores all that choose to follow him.
There are about 47 female prisons in Kenya. Kenya has 47 counties within the country and each of the 47 counties has a female prison. Langata women maximum prison alone has about 600 (six hundred) female prisoners but the number keeps fluctuating since some new cases come in every other time and a few being discharged after serving their jail term. Langata women maximum prison has approximately 50 children living with their mothers in prison aged between 1 day and 4 yrs old. At the age of 4 years, these children are integrated into orphanages/children’s homes depending on the length of the mother’s jail term. There is great and various needs too for these children living with their mothers in prison.
Bellan foundation has had a long standing relationship with Langata Women’s Maximum Prison in Nairobi Kenya, who have given us the opportunity to roll out the outreach since 2007. We want to expand it into a country wide outreach by 2022.