Respected and honorable guests on the dais,
The report that was presented before us unveils that the Co-ordinator SrAshaPreethi D’Souza and all the members of various units have left no stones unturned to actualize the dreams of pioneers of PMI through steady steps, relentless efforts and much more with greater collaboration. Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates vision for tomorrow. At this moment the grateful feeling gushes from within me so much that controls the flow of words.
Let me share with you an anecdote:
The Good Lord was creating the volunteer of PMI. It was his sixth day of overtime and the job was not over. An angel appeared and said, ‘You are taking quite a long time to create a volunteer’. ‘Yes, said God, but I have a number of things to attend to when I have to make a volunteer that too for PMI. A volunteer must stand above all prison inmates yet be on their level. A volunteer must be able to do 180 things not connected with the work that is done. A volunteer must communicate life giving love towards all the inmates daily and be right, most of the time. A volunteer must have more time for others than for herself/himself. A volunteer must have a smile that can endure through problematic and worried inmates and Prison Authorities. A volunteer must have six pair of hands and three pairs of eyes. The angel raised his eyebrow, ‘three pair of eyes on standard model?’ The Lord nodded his head, ‘One pair of eyes can see an inmate for what he is and not what others have labeled him as. Another pair of eyes is in the back of the volunteer’s head to see what should not be seen, but what must be known. The eyes in the front are only to look at the inmate and without saying a word to express ‘I understand and I still believe in you, you can change your life, you are beautiful, you have a better future’. ‘This is a big project and you will not finish it today, you better continue tomorrow’, said the Angel. I can’t, said the Lord, ‘for I have come very close to creating something much like myself. This volunteer is the one who comes to work when she/he is sick, reveals the truth that do not want to learn, has a special place in her/his heart for people who are not her/his own, understands the struggles of those who have difficulty, never takes the inmates for granted, soft hearted and yet tough, full of love and compassion in the heart, and trust in the providence of God. The angel ran his finger over the volunteer’s cheek. Well, he said, ‘there is a leak, you have overloaded the model. The Lord touched the drop of moisture and said, ‘It is not a leak, it is a tear.’ ‘A tear?’ What is that for?’ asked the angel. The Lord replied’ ‘It is for the joy and pride of seeing an inmate making a difference in his life. It comes from the pain of not being able to reach to all the inmates.
We have you, my dear volunteers who work for Prison Ministry, an image of God amidst us, today who are the center of programme. You have given your time, your energies, warmth and love to hundreds. You have given yourself without counting the cost, toiled without looking for any rest, laboured without seeking a reward. You richly deserve our respect, the esteem and gratitude for being serving persons, sharing persons, giving persons and above all loving persons. Definitely you are the masterpieces of God’s creation and God must have used his best technical efficiency while creating each one of you. You have a special call to touch the lives and hearts of the broken – hearted and make them dignified human persons by providing a platform to unravel the hidden capacities in an inmate, a pedestal to identify the eagle in an egg, a statue in a piece of stone and a butterfly in a cocoon. As a Persian proverb goes; Mountains cannot reach out to the mountains, only humans can reach out to humans. We need more volunteers and co-workers to reach out to our brothers and sisters behind bars inside the huge walls of prison, with varied and untold needs. Prisoners lack legal aid, Consequence of prison structure and function; Physical and psychological torture resulting from overcrowding, lack of space for segregation of sick, stinking toilets for want of proper supply of water, lack of proper bedding, restrictions on movement resulting from shortage of staff, non-production of under trail prisoners in courts, neglect in the grant of parole, inadequate medical facilities are some of the collective neglect of the whole system, lack of physical and mental activities, lack of decent health care, all increase the likelihood of health problems in prisons, Women and health care in prisons;
J. Maurius says ‘The day you no longer burn with love, many others will die of cold’. It means the growth in any mission with a vision demands love, dedication, patience, understanding and sacrifice. True love germinates from the heart and grows one day at a time – from a corn to an oak, firmly rooted in reality. As you tirelessly work for the Release, Renewal and Rehabilitation of the inmates of the prison this programme reminds me of one truth, that even the most dismal challenges when faced with courage and faith in God, make us experience success and that too success to the satisfaction of everyone who is involved in it.
May God grant you the best of everything especially good health, peace of mind, joy and fulfillment and a thousand opportunities to serve Him. May the Lord walk with you and may you bring inspirations in many more lives.
Good luck and God bless!
Sr Rosin Noronha UFS
Former Regional Co-ordinator PMI