Guinea Conakry - Liturgy in prison in Conakry: a place of humanity for prison inmates
October 2, 2010
The "Maison Centrale" in Conakry hosts more than 1000 prisoners. It is an old colonial building, designed for a maximum of 400 people. Living conditions are harsh, as in many other prisons in Africa. The food is little and bad, the risk of infections is high, people sleep crowded, often on the ground.
Prisoners tell that sometimes, to breathe better during the hot, humid days, they stand in turns near the slits of the dormitory.
People often remain in jail for years without their case being debated, and sometimes the detention is longer than it would be expected, because of the inability to pay the fine, or the lack of adequate legal protection.
The Community of Sant'Egidio in Conakry has been present for many years at Maison Centrale, with human closeness and caring, at different levels: health, food support, work for the recovery of prisoners' files and the opening of trials. In recent years, the Community has succeeded in getting the children live in separate rooms, and favored the release of more than one hundred prisoners whose sentence had become extinct.
About one year ago began the weekly prayer with the inmates. The initiative was greeted with joy by the prisoners. Recently, the Community bought desks, chairs and tables to furnish the small chapel. On October 2nd there was the opening with a liturgy attended by more than 200 inmates. Also the warden, the guards and several representatives of humanitarian organizations were present. The chapel has become, in a so hard place, a space open to everybody.
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