WHO ARE WE?
We are Emma, Inma, Rose, James, Mose, Patrick, Mary, Joseph, Michelle, Jan, Vickie, Alex, Hyrine and hundreds more!!! Some of us work at the University of Exeter, the NGO Nafisika Trust- based in Kenya, some are directors of rehabilitation, governors, welfare officers, directors of education within a prison, and even some of us are now behind bars. We are all committed to making a difference!! We have all witnessed the power of Mindfulness and we want to support the Mindful Movement so that people within the Kenya Prisons Service and beyond can benefit from it. One of the principles that underpins our work comes from an African quote: I am because we are. Thus in togetherness we find the strength to move forward and deal with what we call mindful challenges.
WHO IS A MINDFUL LEADER?
In this context, a Mindful Leader is someone who uses mindfulness to lead their lives and inspire others to do the same.
HOW DID IT START?
In April 2015, a psychologist from the University of Exeter Business School (Inma) planted the seed of Mindfulness by training the Director of Rehabilitation (Mary) and 5 prison governors (Patrick, Olivia, Aggrey, Bison and another Patrick). A few months later she went to Kenya and did some more training within 4 institutions. She was then supported by a small team in Exeter (Emma, Michelle, Leonie and Jayne among others), a team in the African Prisons Project (Matteo and Hamisi among others) and the Kenya Prisons Service (those initially trained and others who joined).
WHERE ARE WE NOW?
Three years later there are hundreds of us in almost 20 institutions and thousands have directly or indirectly benefited from Mindfulness. The most innovative project that has emerged is the Inner Rehabilitation Programme where inmates are transforming themselves through Mindfulness and are transforming each other.
Kenya Prisons Service have recognised and celebrated the remarkable difference the project has made to the inmates, staff, relationships and harmony within the prisons. Thus they are working on integrating this rehabilitation tool at different points during the sentence. We have been blessed to receive volunteers from all over the world, and training from Mindfulness teacher from America Jan Hummer – Open Minds Spark. In August 2019 – we partnered with Nafisika Trust – an NGO based in Kenya whom provide a wonderful programme within 10 prisons, supporting rehabilitation and reintegration into the community – they have a wonderful team, a great ethos and shared passion… This is a very exciting part of the journey…. The dream is that inmates will receive mindfulness at least at two points. At entry point, when they arrive in prison to help them deal with their new reality and the challenges ahead. There is a plan to also provide training at exit point to provide them with tools for reinsertion in the community, building and reforming relationships.
The mindfulness revolution extends beyond the inmates to the prison officers and welfare officers. In April for the very first time a 8-session Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Course was offered to 5 prison officers by Mindfulness teacher Shanker, it was received with enthusiasm and commitment, we are excited to see how this develops too….
WHERE DO WE WANT TO GO?
Everywhere! All prisons in Kenya, schools, communities, wherever there are people willing to make themselves better and make this world a better place to live in! Also, it doesn’t have to be bounded to one country. Come and join us to move this mindful leaders’ movement wherever it’s called to go.