Are you a volunteer looking to visit offenders doing time in Uganda prisons, an Ex-offender seeking opportunity to support and motivate convicts or your're just a charity organization seeking out an investment opportunity in the welfare of inmates and their children in Africa.
Or you're an inmate seeking opportunity in Uganda to use your correctional experiences to correct others!
If you fall in any of those categories; then pick a cup of coffee and take some time to read through the Experiences and Lessons of our role Model , Jonathan Mugerwa Lukwago a.k.a Lucky Go who was arrested in 2005, Charged and Condemned to death but miraculously released in 2016.
Jonathan has been allowed by the Commissioner General of prisons to use the Open Door Policy in Uganda prisons to relate and improve the welfare of other inmates.
You thus have an opportunity to book a Uganda Prisons Charity Tour guided by Jonathan Mugerwa.
You also have an opportunity to donate and support Inmates, Ex-offenders and their children to achieve correctional efficiency and reduce recidivism.
My name is Mugerwa Jonathan Lukwago, 41, years old. I was borne on June 14, 1975 at Kilembe mines in Fort portal, southern Uganda.
I was arrested at 31years, my prime years, and incarcerated on 22th Nov. 2005 and freed on 20th October 2016 through a normal release. My arrest had nothing to be desired. The angry mob almost killed me.
They formed themselves into a kangaroo court to deal with me. I came to learn that people of this area Namere zone Kampala had lost confidence in the rule of law and had resorted to mob justice and the use of furnace punishment (lynching suspects on Spot); so they put me between two lorry tires and poured "fuel" over my head.
Maama Whitney saved me by selling to the angry mob mere water instead of fuel in a polythene bag so their plan to set me ablaze didn’t succeed immediately!
The police came and rescued me by firing two gun shots in the air after Mama Whitney had called them to the scene. Police fired dispersed the mob and took me to Kanyanya Police Post where I was charged of a capital offence punishable by death.
After 30 days I was taken to Buganda road court which remanded me to Luzira Maximum Security Prison.
This day has, up to now, remained the most terrifying in my life. I all the time thought of facing the gallows. I spent 3 years on remand. Each day was of worries and deep thinking about the next step. Nights were so difficult and congestion was at its capacity!
There were frequent water shortages and yet when water was available; taking bath was difficult. Inmates had to bath through a number, despite the heat from the prison walls.
Very many inmates lined up for the number to shower. In most cases I found myself out of chance. I slept with people from different background and everybody slept as he pleased.
Luzira maximum prison is located in Kampala district, but troubled with lice and bedbugs. These small insects bit me all night long moving around my body causing a lot of discomfort and swelling yet l did not have jelly to smear on my body on a daily basis. I cleaned my room but that was not the solution.
The prison authority was reluctant to buy disinfectant / pesticides because there was no donor to do that. We were in for punishments and for bedbugs and lice.
These were the years of load-shedding and it was total darkness most of the nights. I could change my head several times at night, waking up tired most of the mornings, among other miseries resulting from uncomfortable sleeping.
I survived the hunger man’s nose narrowly; the Lord saved me for a purpose.
I was deprived of several human democratic rights. For instance, I could not enjoy my favorite dishes nor associate with my family. I couldn’t see the sky, l was separated from my family for 11yrs! They lacked my guidance, care and love.
On 28th October 2016, l met my former girlfriend and my son who is now 16 years old, but it was a difficult condition to bear, as my son did not know me and my girlfriend had been taken by another man and they live in Bulenga!
What disturbed my mind was the fact that my son Jeremiah wept and lagged behind in Education. I left him 4 years and right now he is 16 yrs. old but in primary six (P.6) instead of being in senior three (S3)at least.
Among other discomforts in prison is loneliness, most of the time l had no body to talk to. Most of the inmates had different attitudes, for instance only a few loved education.
Whenever l talked about learning, Education ideas, l was not welcomed. Most of inmate came from upcountry and preferred to share home stories in mother languages. I served my sentence with inmates serving longer stretches of time which also caused stigmatization. lf l had money or enough eats, l would at least have had many to talk to.
The cost/discomfort of serving one day of a prison sentence is valued at ten and half million Ugandan shillings. There are rampant fights, rampant deaths, rampant and intrusive counting of inmates to conform that the penal tyrans have not claimed any of us. These discomforts led many in-mates to the Psychiatric Wards and to deaths.
I thus DON'T recommend anybody to go to prison as an In-mate; but I'm encouraging you to visit in-mates/prisoners as a volunteer visitor.
I therefore thank Twinamasiko Peter, and Mutebi Isima whose now doing degree in London University for his company and tolerance to my weaknesses. I thank my sister Joanitah Nakafero (she is now bedridden), for the visits and support.
Nevertheless, in prison there is time to do exercise and training. You just have to secure a sports foot ware, and a training kit to join others at the Jungle Gym or at the football pitch.
I was the soccer manager of Ashton villa FC and was required to source for boots and kits for matches.
Exercises help an inmate to refresh the mind, keep fit and to kill boredom. Inmates who love and involve themselves in sports, find imprisonment more easy and fun.
The downside of these physical exercises is that they are accompanied with excessive appetite/eating and increased use of soap because you have to wash daily. Additionally , uncontrolled involvement in excising leads to formation of coalitions of bad influence among in-mates.
The facility created ample time for reading and education. This is the area that l capitalized on. Having faith against faith.
We were not allowed to poses phones or laptops, but reading materials were provided after being censured.
In 2006, l was offered a vacancy in senior five (S5) doing history, Economics, Divinity and Geography (HEG/D).
In 2007, l did my Uganda advanced education certificate (U.A.C.E) finals and obtained 9 points including that one of General Paper.In 2009, l did a certificate in Entrepreneurship, and in 2014, I did a Diploma in Entrepreneurship obtaining first class in both.In 2011, l rebounded senior five (S.5) doing history, Economics, Divinity and Entrepreneurship,obtaining 18 points in the U.A.C.E exam, doubling my 2007 score.
If l hadn’t been in school, l would have been transferred from this facility to a local farm where everybody is required to be productive by digging.
lf you're not productive outside, you will by all means become productive in prisons, and you are not allowed to eat free food. There is no room for you to waste government resources without returns.
In school we are pace Makers, outside children/students cannot allow to be defeated by inmates.
During Christmas holidays, it was another joy in prison.
Well wishers sent in a lot of meat and food, slippers/flip flops, soap, sugar , rice, and tooth paste among many other gifts; this made us to feel part of the outside world. But l missed my family so dearly!
Most donation and gifts come through charitable organizations, church ministries, strong companies, government agencies and some able families.
These gifts make a lot sense to inmates. For example, in 2007 l swapped/battered sugar to obtain a descent prison uniform.
On several occasions swapped gifts to obtain soap; Soap is the media of exchange in prison.
Now that I'm released, I'm able to fill the gap and deliver gifts and support on your behalf to my former in-mates, prison staff and to the children of in-mates.
I was released on 20th October 2016 after over a decade behind bars.
It was so phenomenal being re-integrated into society to see the sky blue and not walls, eat what I want and enjoy favorable dishes, read the materials that I want and put on choice clothes that fit me.
Have freedom to own and use a mobile phone and a laptop computer.
It is a wonderful world to be free again.
No more involuntary transfers , No more lock ups , No more routine countings/roll calls nor conditional medical treatment ;
Eh..., it is fun
It is freedom
It is abundant life; John 10:10
I am now the only one released to cause and create correctional efficiency.
To enhance correction by ex-offenders.
For over a decade l prepared for 20th October and I thank God that it came to pass.
I was very worried about who was to pick me and at what time. Surprisingly two cars came for me. Dr. Robert Kasekende and Mr. Allan Ssemakula my Old School Friends (OBS) of Makerere College School (MCS) came with a Toyota Noah Car and picked me. Additionally , James Lukwago my brother had also sent another Toyota Noah Car to pick me but I went with Robert who regularly visited me.
I went to settle in Ndejje at a place called Buyongo village. The neighbors welcomed me and it was a good time. Robert gave me clothes, a mattress and blanket. He sourced plates, posho, and beans for me to start life again and made plans for me to start a poultry project. He promised to procure 50 chicks to start the poultry business.
I dug around the house with the help of the neighbors, and within two days, we were done with site clearing.
However, my goal is to start a charitable organization to help inmates and their families the way I was helped.
This prompted me to wait no more for the poultry business. I came to Kampala and I am in the final stages of stating to help others in my NGO; Buena Charity Services Uganda.
After loosing a my prime years of life behind bars, I look forward to turn my lemon into lemonade.
To use my correctional experience and the social capital to contribute to development.
I want to Educate my son Jeremiah and other inmates/prison staff children,
I want to visit and encourage inmates in correctional facilities and Security Housing Units (SHU), coz I have learnt from experience what it means to be visited while in prison.
To provide entertainment to inmates and their families,
To Address the issue of re-settling ex-convicts and ex-offenders
To help inmates cope up with the new environment after release
To help ex-convicts acquire travel licenses, and relate and work with other ex-convicts
To guide ex-convicts on how to relate with the outside community,
To discover the challenges faced by ex-convicts and devise means to overcome them
To Reunite ex-convicts with their families
To accommodate ex-convicts,
To reduce the rate at which the youths enter the Justice system and correctional facilities (SHU), through education and sensitization tours
To find jobs for ex-convicts,
To harmonize relations of convicts all over the world
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