What We’re Doing
“Bringing hope and restoration to the imprisoned children of Africa, in Jesus’ name.”
Jesus is paramount to the mission and to everything we do. No matter how we are serving, the gospel is front and center. Following are some areas where we are specifically working to bring hope and restoration.
Meeting Immediate Needs
Providing Long-term Restoration
Our medical team consists primarily of a staff of full-time nurses. They travel with the team to each facility on their daily visits and conduct clinics where they are able to treat the children’s illnesses. Additionally, through an agreement with the Palmetto Clinic to help us serve the medical needs in some of the more remote facilities which we are not able to attend to as regularly, and we are seeking similar arrangements so that all the facilities can receive adequate medical treatment on a regular basis. When necessary we take children to the hospital for surgeries and remain with them until they recover.
Mentoring requires a deep and trusting relationship. We want the children to know that they are part of a family and are deeply cared for. By and large, these children do not have role models – especially adult males – to whom they can go for guidance, wisdom, counsel or a trusted person to confide in. By serving consistently and being present in the lives of these children, our counselors and staff have developed trusting relationships such that the children feel safe in sharing their stories. This allows our team to better know what the needs of the child are and how we might be able to serve them better or find the resources that will help them the most.
Food, Water, and Shelter
No matter where you live in various parts of East Africa, access to basic necessities can be a challenge. Living in a remand center can make this more difficult, especially if the facility is currently beyond capacity. When the facility becomes overwhelmed with children, we are often called upon to assist with basic needs of food, water, clean clothing and suitable bedding. Even when things are under control, we have been making efforts to improve the supplied diets with milk, meat or fish, fruit and vegetables when available. In 2013 we began a cooperative effort to farm a specified plot of land in conjunction with government efforts to increase the available food for all the facilities. Drought and other factors have limited the expected yield, but we are learning a lot and hope to soon be able to have adequate food supplies for all the children year round.
This area for SixtyFeet has a lot of potential for bringing both hope and restoration for the imprisoned children. Many of the children that we encounter in the facilities are lacking a voice that can speak on their behalf and as a result they languish for much longer than should ever be necessary. In fact, some estimates indicate that nearly 85% of the children should never have been exposed the juvenile penal system at all. Yet they are incarcerated.
We have begun doing what we can to lobby on behalf of the children and try to make sure each one’s case is being addressed, but it is not enough. We want to get them out of the system as promptly and efficiently as possible. We have partnerships with local and US legal organizations and are seeking partnerships with others whose sole purpose is the advocacy of children’s rights in the remand homes.
Our counseling staff has a wide range of experience from which to draw when dealing with the issues brought to them by the children in the facilities. Their first step is to meet with the children one-on-one and begin to build a rapport with them and earn their trust. Once they are willing to open up, it is possible to begin learning their story and working through the tough issues each one of them faces. We have also begun to develop partnerships with organizations like eXile International which specializes in the care and treatment of children who have experienced the trauma of war and displacement.
Our education program is a two-fold approach. For many of the children still in the remand homes, they have the opportunity to continue their education – either at a local day school or through classes that are taught by teachers provided by Sixty Feet. The catch is, there is no government-funded schooling and so a child must be able to provide the necessary fees and materials. This is where our General Sponsorship program comes in. For just $50/month, we are able to keep children on track with their education by providing the necessary fees or paying the salaries of quality teachers leading classes inside the facilities.
For those children that are released, we work to get them resettled into their home environment if at all possible. Many times that is not a safe alternative and in those cases there are many good boarding schools that we work with to get children accepted into. During this post-incarceration phase, when the child’s family is unable to support their education needs, we incorporate them into our sponsorship program. It is a beautiful part of the redemption process when we are able to see a child who was once imprisoned and hopeless, now flourishing in school with a bright path ahead of him.
It is always an honor for us to share the Word of God. Whether through preaching in the prisons, Bible studies in our homes, or providing Bibles to the children, we never miss an opportunity to share the love of Jesus and the riches of His Word. It is our belief and conviction that Christians are expected to meet the needs of our neighbors.
Matthew 25:35-36 “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.”
Mark 12:29-31 “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength’. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jer. 29:11.