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On Tuesday, 20 October, Belgium Campus students visited the Kgosi Mampuru II Correctional Centre. The tour was an interesting experience for everyone. Some students mentioned that the experience was a lot different from what they expected.

The first part of the visit was to the women’s prison. There were about 30 to 40 women in one room with one toilet and one shower. Some had already spent 5 years in prison. The students learnt that these ladies are allowed to receive food, clothes and toiletries from family members. The students’ heard how drugs, money and cell phones are smuggled into the prisons. Three of the prisoners then explained how they ended up in prison and answered all the questions the students had.

For the second part of the tour, students went to the men’s prisons. They were accompanied by five prisoners, who showed the single room cells. They explained that prisoners who are studying or working can get the privilege of having a single room cell, which still isn’t very big. Once again, the prisoners shared their eye-opening testimonies and the students were able to ask questions. At the end of the discussions two students spoke about what they learnt and everybody prayed together.

The circumstances and the stories of the prisoners made the students think about the consequences of bad choices.

Feedback from our Student Counsellor, Hanne Vanspauwen:

“I think the prison visit and the conversations with the prisoners are a good experience for the students. They learnt that one small bad choice can change your life and can make you end up in prison. They learnt that the prisoners are people like you and me; people who make mistakes, people who made a wrong choice. I think the students realised after this visit that they never want to end up in prison. This visit also motivates them to stay on the right track. Students can be impulsive in their actions, but I’m sure they will think twice next time when they plan to do something they shouldn’t do.

We, at Belgium Campus, want a good future for our students. As a student counsellor, I try to encourage and motivate students to make the right choices. I’m sure this prison visit is helping with this.

I’m sure the students learned a lot; not only about the working and the circumstances in the prison but also about the prisoners themselves. At the end of our visit one of our students thanked the prisoners who spoke to us for telling us their stories, so we have the opportunity to learn from their mistakes. I think that was nicely said.”