Kevin (not his real name) is an inmate in First Offenders Prison in Gaborone, Botswana. He is also a gifted artist, having taught himself how to draw while serving his sentence.
Kevin realizes that it will be very difficult for him after he is released. He is Zimbabwean which means that he will be deported back to Zimbabwe as soon as he is released from prison. He understands that it will be very difficult for him to get a job, and his family and friends could very well want nothing to do with him. And so Kevin is facing a choice.
Kevin could choose to reoffend as soon as he is released so that he can go back to the familiarity and predictability of prison life. Many make that choice. Or, Kevin could choose to take control of his life and do all that he can to make sure he succeeds at life outside of prison. Kevin is making the second choice.
Kevin was one of the men who completed the small business course that I taught at First Offenders Prison in Gaborone at the beginning of March. He was a very active participant in the group discussions and had been working on a business plan even before the course started.
He is planning to use the artistic skills that he has been honing to start a graphic design business. He plans to offer several different services to his customers and is focusing on providing custom graphics and art for whatever purpose the customer has in mind.
Kevin will be released in a few months and he told me that one of his goals is to be able to see his daughter when she turns 7 later this year, and to never miss another birthday.
It was an amazing privilege for me to be able to teach the course in the prison and to meet men like Kevin who are choosing to take control of their future. I'm looking forward to hearing about what some of these men do in the future.
A pencil drawing by Kevin, given to me as a gift at the end of the small business course.