Remember Me ('Kae Me') is a collaborative project between photographer Francis Kokoroko and artist and stylist Rania Odaymat, and facilitated and supported by the Fair Justice Initiative. The project developed from a series of workshops and friendships made with 12 women at the Nsawam Prison, 6 sentenced to life and the other 6 condemned to die...
"I still want to appeal my sentence but I have given up on trying. I don’t have access to a lawyer, or money to pay for one. I tried to start the process once before but it fell through" - Esther
Access to justice is a fundamental human right. However, lack of funds and legal knowledge constitutes a significant barrier to the exercise of this right for many individuals interacting with the Ghanaian criminal justice system. Whilst a government legal aid service exists, it is critically underfunded and does not have anything close to sufficient capacity to address the high volume of eligible cases.
To try and remedy this gap, we offer legal advice and representation to detainees at Nsawam Medium Security Prison. We conduct legal aid surgeries to provide an opportunity for detainees to learn more about their cases and legal rights, and offer low cost or pro bono legal services for cases that meet our specialisation criteria. We specialise in prosecutorial misconduct, unfair trials, human rights infringements and public interest.
Each of our cases costs c. GHc 3500.
"Not having money is the root of most of my problems here. I cannot afford hospital, and health insurance only covers malaria and paracetamol. Even eye drops cost too much money." - Salamatu
Access to healthcare is one of the main problems facing Ghana's prison inmates, who are reliant on the generosity of others to pay for hospital treatment and medication. For many, the distance from their families and the stigma of incarceration means that visits are few and far between, leaving them without that necessary income.
FJI helps to pay or source sponsorship for urgent surgeries, such as a recent cesarian section for a remand detainee. We also assist with the regular medical costs of several of the more vulnerable inmates, sponsored by the kind donations and sponsorship of private individuals.
Sponsoring an inmates basic/medical needs costs GHc 250 per month
"When you are in prison everyone forgets about you. My children don’t visit anymore, they are tired of making the journey." - Adwoa
Food is provided once a day in Nsawam Medium Security Prison; a bowl of corn meal with limited nutritional value. The distance from home, poverty and stigma against incarceration means that many inmates do not have adequate support from their families to supplement these provisions. This has direct consequences on their health and quality of life.
The Fair Justice Initiative delivers regular care packages to address this need. These contain items such as: Indomie (noodles), tomato puree, rice, laundry soap, bathing soap, powdered milk, sugar, bread, hot chocolate sachets, cooking oil, biscuits, juice, toilet paper.
A delivery of 80 care packages costs c. GHc 3200 - 10000 (depending on exact contents)
The aim of FJI's Theatre for Development project is to provide inmates with an opportunity to learn new tools for self-expression, and through that to contribute to advocacy efforts about the challenges they have faced, and rehabilitation.
The first instalment of FJI's Theatre for Development project was run by a team of student volunteers from the University of Ghana, coordinated by Assistant Lecturer Mr Abdul Karim and led by Ewura Adams Karim. It launched in November 2018, and concluded with a performance for International Women's Day in March 2019. The theme of the performance was gender equality, and saw the inmate participants reciting moving monologues about gender discrimination that were written by the student facilitators following discussions with the inmates about their own experiences, and who then helped to edit the text. The monologues were also interwoven with singing and dancing.
Following the success of this first phase, we hope to run further theatre courses in 2019.
For our newest project, FJI has partnered with Abena of Hatbox Co and Velma of Velma's Millinery and Acessories who will each be offering a six week course in millinery skills to two sets of five inmates at Nsawam Prison Female Section. It is hoped that the course will teach the inmates skills that they can employ both upon release and during their sentences, with the added benefit of this providing them with income to support the costs they face in prison. The project will be funded by the Australian High Commission's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
This project launched in April 2019.
FJI has also been discussing a collaboration with Halima Bello at Bello|Edu to develop a sewing and knitting course for the women at Nswam Prison, as a means to provide financial support to the inmates during their incarceration and to offer them skills to help them with reintegration upon their release.
This project is hoped to launch later in 2019.
FJI has partnered with the Reformer's School at Nsawam Men's Section, to help facilitate an expansion of the educational opportunities on offer. The school was founded with the aim that a prison sentence should provide not deny opportunities for growth. This year (2018) saw a spike in enrolment numbers, with over 300 pupils registered for primary and secondary school classes, evidencing a growing demand to take on those opportunities.
In October 2018, FJI hosted a 'Back to School Lunch' made possible by our friends at Villa Grace who donated their time and resources. It was an opportunity for us to meet with some of the new pupils, hear about the positive impact the school was having on their lives, and find out how their thoughts on how we could help the school to develop.
FJI have also begun to investigate the possibility of bringing university level education to Nsawam Prison, following the 'Prison to College Pipeline' model developed by Baz Dreisinger of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, NYC.
This project is still in development.