A Courageous Servant
Francis was a married father with 3 teenage children when he arrived at Kamiti Maximum Security Prisons. Adjusting to prison life was extremely difficult for him. He has been in prison for over 13 years now, and in that time his wife and son have passed on, and his parents have grown old.
He speaks about that dark period and how he overcame it.
“I became incredibly depressed, I did not want to eat or to wash; I did not interact with anyone. It was a very difficult time.”
After a period of severe darkness, Francis found faith in Christ, which played a huge part in pulling him out of the initial despair.
Francis is also another of our pioneering students. One of the first to complete his law degree degree in 2017, he has been teaching others and offering paralegal services from behind bars.
Supporting New Inmates
One of the things he tried to focus on most is supporting new inmates on their arrival to Kamiti. Having experienced the worst that the prison has to offer in terms of what it can do to your hope, Francis feels it is key to support others in understanding that they can make a life in prison.
“My family was very disappointed that I had not met their expectations but studying law has given me confidence again.”
Francis saw the opportunity to study law as a chance to equip himself with essential skills having not been able to defend himself properly during his trial process.
Persevering In Difficult Circumstances
Studying anything in prison is challenging. Kenya’s prisons are notorious for overcrowded and inhumane conditions. Electricity, water, time and space are never guaranteed and although prisons are improving, Kamiti is a Maximum Security Prison and one of the toughest.
For Francis, he experienced the added difficulty of being transferred part way through his first year of studying. He managed to continue his studies, with Nickson, a second year staff student, supporting him by ensuring cases and materials were being sent to him. However being uprooted made an already difficult legal programme, being undertaken in already exceptionally challenging circumstances, even harder. Thankfully Francis returned to Kamiti to rejoin the rest of the class, but this makes his achievements all the more impressive.
Having graduated he’s rightly proud of his accomplishments but determined to use his knowledge to serve others.
“The UoL degree is very prestigious, it makes you feel different. I became a prison trustee due to my accomplishments in prison. The regional commander of Nyeri was really impressed on learning that I had attained a law degree while in prison.”
Francis focuses on how to best serve the people around him. Alongside his legal work, he has become a trained counsellor and palliative caregiver, visiting inmates in the sick bay regularly. Ultimately, he just wants to be there for his family as best he can and give back to society, by serving the vulnerable around him.
Our Justice Changemakers
In 2018 10 of our students graduated with a law degree [LLB] from the University of London. We are proud and delighted to share their stories and imagine how they can begin to make, shape and implement the law.
What could you do to support others, like Francis changing a justice system from the inside out?