A certificate ceremony is held at the end of each 12-week Personal Growth
Course. Many of the participants use this opportunity for Restorative Justice.
Families are invited to be a part of this deeply moving time.
Leatitia is in prison for murdering an abusive partner. Her father has been very ill with cancer, and she thought he would die before she got to say she was sorry and put things right with him. During the certificate ceremony, she publicly made her apologies, but her father was unable to attend. A video of her confession was sent to him and the family had a deeply meaningful time of restoration. He died two weeks later.
Marie waits at the fire. During the course, each participant has written up a list of people they would like to forgive and people they need forgiveness from. On this day, they take the list and put it in the fire, as a sign of letting things go in their earnest desire and attempt to move on.
There was not a dry eye in the crowd when Susan, weeping, told the crowd
about the abuse she received at the hands of her husband. After she had
asked her children to forgive her, the family sat huddled together and
comforted one another. Her story was featured in The Star
newspaper the next day.
Lerato is serving time for housebreaking, and as she has looked at the impact of her crime on the victims, she has been shocked and distraught at her own behaviour and is now very keen to speak to the family and see if there is any way they could forgive her for what she did. She has become involved in several programmes in prison, including the Heartwork Personal Growth Course, where she served as a co-facilitator on the last course. She has become a leader and is an enormous support to so many others.
For many this is a happy time of reunion with family and friends - a happy time spent together.
For others, it is a time to remember their aloneness. Some participants
attend the ceremony with friends, or with no-one at all. Their families
may live too far away to visit, and so, they go for years without seeing
parents, children, or friends. Many of these women feel particularly
unsupported, and find their time in prison particularly difficult.
Lerato, centre, is seen here with two much loved women from the Alpha team.
Some of the women who needed to celebrate alone include Janet, Martie,
Promise, and Yvonne.
Postal Address: PO Box 4327, Randburg, 2125, South Africa
Phone: 082-961-4074 (International: +27-82-961-4074)
Copyright © 2002-2003 Debbie Jones, HeartWork
(Last updated on 22 June 2003)