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Prem Rawat recently visited Zimbabwe for the first time, meeting with incarcerated people who have participated in the Peace Education Program and supportive officials from the Prisons and Correctional Service.
Speaking in the capital city of Harare at the May 12 event, Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS) Commissioner-General MCN Chihobvu applauded the Peace Education Program, noting that it is having a positive impact on offenders as well as staff.
“Extending the Peace Education Program within our institutions has seen the transformation of lives, especially those who were treated as high-risk inmates,” he said. “Similarly, some members of staff have also participated in the Peace Education Program, which has demonstrated to be highly regarded as a self-discovery and empowerment vehicle that can help in addressing social ills. … The program is undeniably changing lives for the better.”
Over 850 incarcerated people and 150 corrections officers have already participated in the program in Zimbabwe and ZPCS is planning to expand the workshops to all facilities across the country. The Prem Rawat Foundation (TPRF) recently fulfilled a request by the ZPCS to provide the audio and video equipment and course materials needed for implementation.
In his talk at Harare Central Prison, Prem Rawat encouraged participants to take the lessons of the Peace Education Program to heart and to live with a sense of empowerment over their own lives.
“You have the power to change. Nobody needs to bring in the power to change; you have the power to change. You have the power to see what is good. But it has to be all about you. And that is the reason why the Peace Education Program works, because it places you at the center,” he said. “Today is the day you need to make that change. That kindness you need to start with, has to be today, not tomorrow. You know what the difference is between today and tomorrow? Very simple. Today comes. Tomorrow never does. When it comes, it becomes today. So, don’t be fooled by the word ‘tomorrow.’”
The Peace Education Program was created to help participants from all walks of life discover their own inner strength and personal peace. Excerpts of Prem Rawat’s inspiring talks are at the heart of the program workshops, giving participants the opportunity to focus and reflect on their own humanity and their inner resources such as choice, hope and dignity.
At the Zimbabwe event participants were given the opportunity to ask Mr. Rawat questions and express their learnings.
“The Peace Education Program helped me to navigate through feelings of revenge and feelings of anger that I had within me,” said one of the Harare inmates. “I am a changed, better person. I can now easily forgive others,” said another.
One of the correctional officers who facilitates the program told Mr. Rawat that he regularly hears from participants who say that, “If I had known about this program earlier in life, I would not be in prison.”
The experience of those in Harare echoes the results of a study that found that 89 percent of 604 incarcerated participants in four continents benefited by helping them feel empowered to face past events, gain a willingness to change, better manage their anger and avoid fighting.
Commissioner-General Chihobvu was first introduced to the Peace Education Program in 2019 by TPRF volunteers at an International Corrections & Prisons Association (ICPA) conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
More recently, in March of this year, South African Peace Education Program representatives Anne Wolfson and Ernest Leketi visited Zimbabwe to meet with ZPCS officials and to help pave the way for Prem Rawat’s event and the program’s expansion. Many ZPCS representatives have been key to the developments including Dr. Granisia Musango, Deputy Commissioner General, Zandile Sibanda, Director for Rehabilitation and Reintegration, Phanuel Takaza, Deputy Director of Rehabilitation and Reintegration and Nokuthula Wutta, Principal Correctional Officer.
“Thank you to our wonderful partners at ZPCS for hosting the great event with Prem Rawat and to everyone who is working to ensure that more people have access to this life-changing program,” says Willow Baker, Peace Education Program Director. “It all happens thanks to the generous efforts of TPRF’s volunteers and contributors and the enthusiasm of its founder.”