I enjoyed my time visiting and working with prisoners at the Central Prison in Lusaka. I got re-energized by my interaction with them. I found that helping someone less fortunate than myself gave me a lot of satisfaction because I knew that I was making a difference in someone else’s life. Many times, I would arrange for some food stuffs, clothes or medicine to distribute to prisoners. The amount of the items increased when I introduced the ministry to my church.
We found out that arranging for the items was easier than distributing them. The prisoners were undisciplined and would snatch the items from us and then come back for more while weaker ones were left with nothing. The warders did not want to get involved because of the thuggish ways of the prisoners and this happened quite a few times.
In came Kadi, an approximately five feet (152.4 cms) tall inmate from Sierra Leone. Kadi was a very quiet girl and we had hardly noticed her. Well, she came to us one day and asked if she could help us with the distribution. Of course, we agreed and Kadi took charge immediately. She seemed to transform into a dynamo of the authority and yelled at other inmates to stand in line. The latter did not pay attention and were clamoring for the items to be distributed at which time Kadi stood between the goodies and the inmates. She warned them that she would not distribute them unless they listened to her. The inmates quietened down and shuffled into line. Kadi made sure that there was total order and silence before she invited asked us to do the distribution. She stood by our side and ensured that no inmate complained (at least to our face) about preferring a different item. The task went very well and we were actually surprised. This became the routine of doing distributions and we had no problem thereafter.
After Kadi left, we would seek assistance from an inmate/inmates that were tough, either physically or verbally, to help us. I noticed that this system was still in place when I visited the prison last year with my friends from my old church.
What did I learn from Kadi and other inmates that helped us? I learnt that it is OK to enlist the help of one stronger than you in an area that you are weak. Asking for assistance is not a weakness. Instead, it is a weakness to pretend that you are what you are not and mess up in the meanwhile.