Exchange students back home

2015-10-08 06:00

Two social workers who have been abroad to acquire skill have brought a lot of experience on how to use theatre as a tool for rehabilitation of inmates and ex-offenders.

Vuyiseka Thelma Mapeyi and Jacqueline Hoorn, social workers from National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders (NICRO), arrived back in the city from Oslo, Norway on Tuesday.

They left the country in January to learn about ways of rehabilitating ex-offenders, inmates and parolees using theatre.

They were there as ambassadors for the country, and as part of SK Norway exchange programme called Peace Corps.

Nicro has a project, called Help! I am free Vardeteatret, which they run with Norwegian prisons together with Artscape Theatre and Pollsmoor Correctional Services.

Mapeyi said their stay in Norway was fruitful.

“It was a privilege for us to be there. We learnt a lot of things that we are going to use here.

It was very empowering and we gained a lot of skills and knowledge. It was good,” she said.

She said she had noticed many differences about the living conditions of inmates in Norway as compared to the “overcrowded” prisons in the country.

She said prisoners live in their separate rooms.

Mapeyi said over there, prisoners undergo a rehabilitation programme a year before their release, to prepare them to be able to deal with challenges of the outside world.

“Ex-offenders face a number of challenges when they get released, such as being rejected by their families or residents and they also cannot get jobs, because of their criminal records.

We also helped those who do not have Identity Documents to get them,” she added.

She also said they helped the ex-offenders through a programme called Employment Opportunity Programme.

Hoorn also applauded the programme.

“It was a great opportunity for us,” she said.

Nicro does the rehabilitation in Pollsmoor Correctional Service and they are currently working closely with about 20 inmates.

Mapeyi also said they have already seen a success of their work as one of the ex-offenders that they rehabilitated is now a known musician, but she preferred to keep his identity protected.

The duo also got an opportunity to see Queen Zondo, the South African ambassador to Norway, visited their parliament there, had undergone some trainings at Oslo University, learnt about the Norwegian culture and language, and many other opportunities.

NICRO remains the only national non-government organisation providing comprehensive crime prevention services across South Africa.

It is the main provider of diversion services for children in South Africa, since 1992

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