BCF Inmates Display Creativity at Business Expo

By Marvlin Anthony

FOR the inmates at the Bordelais Correctional Facility (BCF), life can be meaningful despite its challenges. The Facility offers them a little more than they could have hoped for – in some cases, that is. For the prisoners, it’s a chance to start over, an opportunity to be restored, and it’s up to them to capitalise on that moment.

At BCF, creativity comes in handy. Not only that, it’s a serious pastime for the inmates.

I met two inmates from the Facility in the William Peter Boulevard last week advertising some of their most cherished products. At first, one would never guess that they’re inmates of BCF.

Anthiea James (one of the inmates) beckoned me to come over when she spotted me near their tent. But my curiosity grew considerably when Michaeline Stephen (the Programmes Officer at BCF) informed me that Anthiea and the woman standing next to her were only out briefly.

L-R: Maria Angelien (inmate), Michaeline Stephen, Programmes Officer at BCF and Anthiea James (inmate)
L-R: Maria Angelien (inmate), Michaeline Stephen, Programmes Officer at BCF and Anthiea James (inmate)

“They’re inmates at the Bordelaise Correctional Facility,” she informed me, adding that “we’re here (at the Business Expo) to showcase their talent.”

“They have a number of bags on display today. Some of the bags were made with the pages of the directory, magazines and newspapers. They are handcrafted and each bag took about two days to make,” Stephen said, noting that “our inmates are really talented.”

They also had other items on display. Amongst them, mats (which were beautifully crafted), a picture frame and a flower vase.

“They created the mats from old t-shirts; we try our best to recycle. The picture frame was made with match sticks, one of the bags were made with a (water container) and the flower vase was made with cardboard. I am very proud of them,” Stephen said.

Anthiea James
Anthiea James

With the money they’ve received, the inmates will be able to shop from the prison’s commissary. They can also use it as a head start for later on (after they’ve left prison).

“They all have an account (at BCF) so they can buy their snacks, toiletries and what not,” Stephen explained.

According to her, she does not want the inmates to be forgotten.

Anthiea James was thrilled to be at the Expo. For her, getting out of the prison was truly satisfying – even though it was for a short while.

Said James: “It has been six years since I’ve been at Bordelais. I’m happy I’m in Castries today to sell my bags. That’s my first time participating in this event and I’m really proud.”

Maria Angelien, the other inmate at the fair, offered some advice to the nation’s youth.

“Learn to walk away from problems (and) learn to control (your) anger; sometimes we don’t think before we leap,” Angelien said.

“They can find themselves engaged in something (positive) to keep their minds busy on a daily basis,” she added.

Sarah Alfred, the Education Manager at BCF noted that “we need to be able to rehabilitate our inmates. Most of them are dropouts and they do not really have any vocation. In order to engage their minds and to help them gain meaningful employment we offer them skills.”

She said that individuals who have visited the Facility “have seen their work” and are showcasing it to other people. BCF wants to create an Instagram page she said, “so that persons can choose whatever they wish to buy and we will deliver to them.”

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