Thursday, January 1, 2015

Prisoners no more - thanks to Food for the Poor

GET READY TO GO!  Food For The Poor’s (FFP) Prison Ministry Coordinator, Sandra Ramsey (right), tells a prisoner to ready himself as his fine was paid by FFP and he will be released from the St. Catherine Adult Correctional Centre.

THANK YOU, MR. MAIR: David Mair (left), Executive Director, Food For The Poor Jamaica, presents one of the 17 inmates from the St. Catherine Adult Correctional Centre, with a relief package courtesy of the charity organization.   

YOU’RE FREE!  Food For The Poor’s Prison Ministry Coordinator, Sandra Ramsey (right), is all smiles as she tells one inmate at St. Catherine Adult Correctional Centre that Food For The Poor will pay his fines on December 10.

Excerpt from Jamaica Observer column | 29 Dec 2014 by Jean Lowrie-Chin

Every year at Christmas and Easter, Food for the Poor pays fines for the release of non-violent prisoners so they can be reunited with their families.  Over recent weeks, a total of 68 prisoners in Guyana, Haiti, Honduras and Jamaica were released through the prison ministry of Food for the Poor.  Twenty-nine were released in Jamaica.

FREE TO GO! Sandra Ramsey, Prison Ministry’s Coordinator at Food For The Poor Jamaica, shakes the hand of one of two inmates who were released from prison on December 11 after Food For The Poor paid their fines.
“There are large numbers of desperate people who are locked in jail that have been forgotten because they stole whatever they could to try to feed their hungry families,” said Robin Mahfood, Food For The Poor’s President/CEO. “It is a serious situation. The Gospel message strengthens and reminds us to give a hand up to others who dwell in darkness.”
Now here is a near miraculous story. One of the inmates released from the St Catherine Correctional Centre on December 10 was a 45-year-old Kingston barber. On Dec. 9, bailiffs took him from his shop because he had breached the Debtors Act, an offense that carries a fine or 14 days in prison. The barber and father of three had found it difficult to continue to pay outstanding rent when his business slowed down. 
“It happened so quickly, I was not even allowed to call or talk to anyone,” said the former inmate. “When I came here, I begged an officer for a call and contacted my wife and explained the situation. I begged her not to tell my children, especially my daughter in high school, because it would devastate her. I prayed the whole night because I am the breadwinner for the family and I didn’t know what was going to happen to them. I said, ‘God, is this a trial that You are putting me through to make me develop, or is this a way to teach me a lesson? I know You are real, and You have never failed me yet’.”
You can imagine his joy and that of his wife when he learned that he would be the one of those whose fines were being paid and that he would be released after one night!  Such is the mercy of God, handed out by those who are his earthly instruments of hope.

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