Salim Kanza Madimba, former inmate, is starting a broiler chicken farm

May 29, 2015

Salim Kanza Madimba proudly showing his certificate. Copyrights: UNDP-DRC 2014

Considering his age – 21 – Salim is pretty tall! He does not know his exact height but asserts that he is over 1m90. Proof? He easily touches the basketball hoop! 
 
“I learned about chicken farming when I was incarcerated in the Munzenze central prison in Goma. I served my sentence and I have been free since March 18th 2014. I have just built a project to apply what I learned in prison. I have enough land to do this but I am short on the funds needed to get started”, Salim Kanza Madimba explains, with a grin, always in a good mood. Time spent in prison did not affect his good humour. When he was 20, Salim was a fifth year student in a secondary school in Goma, specialising in social technology. He spent a year behind bars at the central prison of Goma for violence. “Prison helped me grow-up, understand the value of freedom and understand life”, he highlights. For a moment, Salim’s smile slips. He becomes sombre thinking about his old co-inmates still waiting for their release.
 
Restarting life
 
He went back to the prison to participate in the official presentation of certificates to the prison pensioners who followed one of the courses organised in the central prison of Goma by the NGO Support Committee for Auto-promotion (CAAP) TUJITEGEMEE meaning “let’s take charge of ourselves”. The courses offered are cutting and sewing, making artisanal soaps, making concrete blocks, and broiler chicken farming. CAAP TUJITEGEMEE benefits from the material and financial support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and from the support of MONUSCO (United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo).
 
Salim only wants to remember the good side of life as an inmate. He cites learning a trade that will one day allow him to restart his life. “I was chosen amongst other prisoners to follow a course as part of the income generating activity (IGA) initiative. To participate, you needed to have a sufficient level of education, to have been sentenced to a period of two years or less, and to have good behaviour in prison”, Kanza Madimba affirms. “The training was practical, the husbandry techniques easy to assimilate. I chose this course because it offered a wealth of opportunities considering the number of restaurants and hotels in Goma. There really is a market!”
 
When he was released from prison, he made up for lost time by making himself useful to himself and society. He renewed his enrolment in school to finish his secondary education. Alongside his studies, he plans on running a broiler chicken farm. “We have enough space at home. I want to apply what I learned in prison and share my experience with other young people”.
 
Social and economic rehabilitation
 
The project to create income generating activities (IGA) in the Goma prison aims at the social rehabilitation of inmates whilst generating revenue for the prison. “The IGAs also contribute to combatting inmate idleness and reducing tensions that can escalate into fights, revolts or riots. This IGA project allows prisoners to make some pocket money while they serve their sentence and to prepare for their social and economic rehabilitation”, explains a guard trained by the Nation Institute for Professional Preparation (INNP) in the management of IGAs.
 
Despite this, the project has to fight every day to exist, to solve logistical issues, and to find outlets to sell production. “The demand for cement blocks is in constant progression but the prison does not have enough vehicles to deliver them. We had to pause production in the chicken farm because we sold chickens on credit. We are still waiting for payment. We have to undertake cost recovery actions. The prison has just received a new shipment of chicks. We also have a big stock of soap which we do not know how to move. Soap production is consequently suspended for the moment”, reveals another guard, who is also our tour-guide.
 
The old decommissioned building’s courtyard is used as the manufacturing workshop for the cement blocks. “Here, work is a moment we look forward to. It allows us to forget the time passing, to not be shut away in a cell. The courtyard is big, you can walk, talk loudly. Work gives us back some of our dignity and allows us to have some money to buy soap or a cigarette”, explains a prisoner.
 
Worn-down cellars were converted for chicken farming. The cell walls of the old prison, riddled with bullet holes, retrace the history of the mutinies and wars that have traumatised Goma.
 
The prison remains a symbolic place to try and win the trust of the population and most importantly the inmates. “These income generating activities have given a glimmer of hope to the central prison of Goma because part of the funds generated from the sale of our products is used to supply goods and hygiene products for the inmates in order to decrease the risks of revolts and epidemics’, a guard declared.
 
Marc NGWANZA

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