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“Prison is a life-changing experience”

From ex-prisoner to president (of a Malian association)

The story of Safiatou DIARRA, a righsholder associated with Tara BOUARE, an empowerment partner in Mali whose project has come to an end but whose results will leave an eternal print.…….

« Prison was my springboard »

Safiatou was sentenced to four months in prison by a court in Ségou (10km from Bamako). She found herself in this situation after shouting “thieves” when a man who hit her nephew went off in a tangent.

After hearing the young lady’s screams, a group sitting on the street threw a chair at the motorcyclist. The motorcyclist fell off his motorcycle and died on the spot.

The wife and mother of two children was sent to Segou prison with four other people, each with a different sentence because not all played the same role in the unfortunate “manslaughter” of the motorcyclist.

« LThe first few days were awful, I cried all the time. And I couldn’t understand how I got into this situation. Life often deals you some very hard blows. And as a believer we can only accept the facts of God. And this painful experience was a “Allah ka ladjarabi” – a test of God to test my unshakable faith in him. ».

Unlike some people who allow themselves to be swallowed up by such experiences, Safiatou used it as a trigger. Suddenly her eyes opened and sha started to see the world differently (to use her own words). Prison was her springboard. She began to get involved in activities at the prison, to learn the reintegration skills taught in the penitentiaries.

From ex-prisoner to president (of an association) 

When she was released from prison, the Association Tara Bouaré approached her to propose that Mme Diarra creates an association to help prisoners and ex-prisoners. She rose to the occasion and with the support of Tara Bouare created the association “Jiguiya de Sebougou”. A non-profit association that aims to support prisoners in the region of Ségou.

Since then, Safiatou has devoted her daily life to supporting prisoners and taking care of the reintegration of ex-detainees.

Prison is a disturbing experience for many people, but the hardest thing is the way society looks at and rejects ex-prisoners. Socio-economic reintegration is very difficult, which is why the association has a welcome committee for those who finish serving their sentences.

To date the association has received support from some public figures. But the aim is to raise funds to support the prisoners. Safiatou and her team have provided training sessions in soapmaking, during the prison’s training days.

From a tidy and unseen woman, the prison has turned Safiatou Sidibé a strong, committed and resilient woman.

« I’m not ashamed to be an ex-convict. And I will never be embarrassed to tell my story. Everything I’ve been through has made me stronger, more resilient and more devout. For my part, I haven’t been rejected by anyone. My family and friends have been very supportive, especially my husband. And unfortunately many are not so fortunate. Ex-convicts are considered “outcasts” by society, especially women. But you know what? Prisons are also full of innocent people. So let’s avoid passing judgment, because once the sentence is served, prisoners owe nothing to society and justice.

I invite everyone to support us to accompany inmates, some of whom have no clothes or money, or even relatives.

Ex-detenues, prisoners
Ms DIARRA shares her story during the Linking and Learning day of Accountability Lab, July 2020

Safiatou is a “magnanbaga” marriage counsellor, president of the “Jigiya” association and also runs a catering service for ceremonies. She is also a public speaker, using her voice to help others.

Safiatou Sidibé was formed by this school called life, fortified by the experiences and meetings she has on daily basis.

This voice of change was written and shared by Womanager via this link.


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