Food For The Poor Releases Prisoners for Easter
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (March 28, 2013)– During Easter Holy Week, Food For The Poor will release 81 prisoners in Guyana, Haiti, Honduras and Jamaica. Since the inception of Food For The Poor’s Prison Ministry Program in 1998, the charity has assisted in freeing, training and reintroducing prisoners back into the community as productive citizens.
“Prison conditions and poverty are drastically worse in developing countries than they are in the United States,” said Robin Mahfood, President/CEO of Food For The Poor. “Overcrowded prisons are common, and perpetuate the spread of disease and violence.”
The barracks in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, are reportedly so congested, that men are forced to sit in rows on the floor and hug their knees close to their chests – taking turns to stand, and stretch out their limbs. While at the prison releasing inmates, observers noted that many inmates had died before receiving a trial, due to the rapid spread of disease within the prison.
Most of the 16 prisoners released in Haiti in time for Easter were jailed because they stole food to feed their starving families. A 23-year-old father of two and caregiver for his paralyzed mother was released from the Cap-Haitien prison on March 25, after spending six months in jail. He had been accused of stealing a bag of rice. He was happy to be free, but at the same time he was anxious about what circumstances were waiting for him at home.
Another inmate, accused by his brother of stealing a goat, had spent the last five months in jail protesting his innocence. He described regaining his freedom as “God's love in action.” He said God Himself freed him because he is innocent.
In Guyana, 21 inmates were released on March 25 from Georgetown Prison, Timehri Prison and New Amsterdam Prison. Paulette Charles, a member of Food For The Poor-Guyana’s Board of Director, cautioned and challenged the prisoners to sacrifice friendships that will prevent them from walking with God.
Mahfood, who spoke to the recently released prisoners via Skype said, “We have a very serious mission to follow God’s mandate to love one another. God bless you as you go and make a life for yourself. I pray that you never return to prison.”
To demonstrate their gratitude some inmates folded their hands or placed a hand over their heart.
Food For The Poor-Jamaica’s Prison Ministry Program will secure the release of 37 inmates from St. Catherine Adult Correctional Centre, Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre and Tamarind Farm Adult Correctional Centre on March 27 and 28.
As prisoners are released, Food For The Poor representatives and partners pray with them for God’s forgiveness and blessing. Just prior to their release, they are fed a warm meal, given tools, a small stipend and groceries to take home to their families.
Prison authorities have found Food For The Poor’s Prison Ministry Program to be so successful that they have implemented a similar program themselves. Some prisons now offer inmates jobs in the prison where they are held so that they can earn money to pay off their fines.
Seven inmates from a prison in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, were also released and reunited with their families in time for Easter. Each prisoner wrote a note of thanks to Food For The Poor for their release. They used the opportunity to reflect on their past and the circumstances that led to their imprisonment. Many described growing up on the streets, and how they want to become better people.
Twice a year – during the week of Christmas and during Easter’s Holy Week – the Food For The Poor Prison Ministry Program releases inmates who have committed minor offenses. The ministry is based on the scripture, “…I was in prison and you visited me,” (Matthew 25: 31-46).
To support Food For The Poor’s Prison Ministry Program, checks payable to Food For The Poor can be mailed to 6401 Lyons Road, Coconut Creek, Fla. 33073. Please include reference number “SC# 74122” to ensure your donation is correctly routed.
Food For The Poor, named by The Chronicle of Philanthropy as the largest international relief and development organizationin the nation, does much more than feed millions of the hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 95 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor.
Jennifer Leigh Oates
Food For The Poor
954-427-2222 x 6054