We are currently working both at home in Ireland and in Togo to create change. Our ambition is to extend our reach gradually to more and more prisons throughout Togo, and to county-wide reintegration programmes in Ireland. We aim to work closely with local partners to provide more opportunities for both prisoners and ex prisoners in order to help them to improve their lives.
In the more distant future, we hope to extend our services to other West African countries where, just as in Togo, there is no access to mental health support for prisoners and ex prisoners.
Read more below about the meaning behind our web symbol – the Adansonia tree (or click on the link to read more generally about this tree!)
The Adansonia Tree: Our Symbol
The Adansonia tree (or Baobab) is native to Africa and common in Togo. Adansonia trees store water in their thick trunks in order to withstand harsh African draughts. This is akin to the prisoners we work with who must utilise all of their existing inner resources during their time in prison, in order to face up to a new reality. Some do not feel they have these inner resources available, and have never been encouraged or shown how to access them. Many inmates do not survive their time in prison for this reason – be that due to death, or emotional and/or physical deterioration.
The trunk in our tree picture is therefore representative of the time a person spends in prison, which has the potential to be a time of turning inwards in order to find faith. It can be the optimal time to utilise one’s inner qualities to not only survive, but to thrive both spiritually and emotionally – in prison, and later outside of prison.
The colourful leaves at the top of the tree represent the future. If time in prison is utilised to grow and to evolve, then the future can be brighter, and new ideas and action plans can start to take shape. Sometimes these ideas for actions and future plans never form, because there is nobody available and no resources inside the prison to stimulate this and to motivate prisoners to think in a new way. The prisoner therefore stays stuck in the negative and the resentful – focusing on survival and sometimes revenge. It is perhaps akin to the adansonia tree shedding all of its leaves in the dry season where there is no watering or nurturing taking place.
The birds are of course those beautiful dreams which may seem impossible to achieve at first, (and must exist in the beginning only as dreams)….but once other steps are in place, their potentiality becomes apparent. Positive attracts positive. This is a far cry from the darkness in the roots – representative of past mistakes, challenges, abuse, connections, poverty and other events which may or may not have lead to imprisonment.
But as we all know, the roots sustain the tree and the branches cannot exist without them. It is the aim of FSIP to inspire and provide support for prisoners, so that they may begin to take control of their life journey, to see the connections between roots, branches and dreams, and between stuckness and freedom; and to use these in a way that is positive not only for themselves, but also for their friends, family members and for society as a whole.
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