The Philmemon HalfWay House, Nairobi
In October 201, the Daily Nation ran a feature article, detailing the work of "Kelvin Mwikya, the founder of Philemon Foundation that runs Kenya’s only halfway house (place for accommodating and integrating ex-prisoners into society)."
"Mr Mwikya suffered the stigma of bearing the ex-inmate tag firsthand — forcing him to literally seek readmission to prison. On being freed from jail after a successful appeal against conviction over trumped up robbery with violence charges, the only relative he could count on in Nairobi turned him away at the ungodly hour of 10 o’clock in the night.
His cousin’s chilling words — “my place has no place for you to sleep” — still ring in his ears years after he carved himself a niche in ex-prisoners’ rehabilitation. Stigma, suspicion, rejection and lack of equal opportunities are ex-convicts’ lot. After his cousin showed him the door, Mr Mwikya’s heart sank when he walked straight into police on patrol. As they bombarded him with questions, both relevant and irrelevant, like “Who are you?” “Where are you from?”
“Who is your mother?” Who is your father?” “When did you die?” “When did you resurrect?” Mr Mwikya, who had been released less than 24 hours ago, saw jail staring at his face, yet again. Flashing back to Athi River Prison, where he had served three out of a 13-year sentence, his questions to freed inmates, who had come back to jail soon after release came back to haunt him — and especially their standard response: “Huko nje hakukaliki (out there is unliveable)...”
The Philemon Work
"The foundation offers 10 counselling lessons within a six-month residential programme. He faults current interventions, including church-led ones, as irrelevant. Convinced that rehabilitation of prisoners should start in jail, Mr Mwikya says: “Churches don’t know how to handle released prisoners and this is unfortunate. A lot of evangelistic work (goes on), but when they come out, they (churches) don’t know what to do with the prisoners.”
In a tragic-comic example and indictment of misdirected zeal for convicts’ souls, detached from their physical wellbeing, Mr Mwikya told Saturday Nation how various religious groups swamped prisons with Bibles, only for them to be used as toilet paper! Under the envisaged law, halfway houses shall have a social worker(s) as part of the staff “to address the social welfare of the beneficiaries in relation to resettlement needs of the beneficiaries.”
To read more, click on the link to the full Daily Nation article.