Never too late

Friday, 20 January 2017   ::   Trinidad & Tobago

hopd20827Logos Hope volunteers called on their athletic abilities to make connections with young inmates through football and basketball at a male detention centre just outside Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.

The team was surprised to find a considerable amount of freedom on the prison grounds. Dennis Serrette, the sports and recreation officer, explained that the centre is unique in that convicted and non-convicted 16 to 18-year-old youth are brought to the facility to go through a three to four-year rehabilitation programme. According to Dennis, many of the young men committed their crimes when they were very young, so the goal of the programme is to re-train the youth so that when they are released as men, they can re-enter society as mature, law-abiding adults. Part of this training includes freedom to participate in sports, and even travel outside the compound to compete against other football teams.

Raphael Arndt (Germany) shared his personal story with the inmates and used it to explain that every person makes bad choices in life, but what matters is how they respond and move on. He encouraged the youth that it is never too late to start making good choices. While some team members competed on the field and on the court, other volunteers sat and continued to talk with the remaining young men.

The team met for lunch with the prison’s chaplain and commissioner after the game. The commissioner was surprised to learn that all crewmembers are volunteers. Even after the topic had changed, the commissioner brought the conversation back to volunteering. “You are all volunteers. I’m stuck on that, that you all spend six months volunteering.” “No,” laughed the team members, who are all two-year volunteers, “Two years!” “Two years?” The commissioner was incredulous.

“What you are doing is commendable,” agreed the chaplain. “So many people say, ‘I can’t do this,’ or ‘I can’t do that,’ but when I see you stepping out and doing this, I think, ‘This is what we were created to do.’”

The crewmembers were thankful for the opportunity to take part in the work the rehabilitation centre is doing as they encouraged the young men that when it comes to turning their lives around, it is never too late.