SILSILAH MISSION IN THE CITY JAIL OF ZAMBOANGA: Formation Program and Touching Stories.
I was invited by the city Jail of Zamboanga last December 19, 2017 to give a message as founder of the Silsilah Dialogue Movement in a graduation program of a group of ninety six (96) prisoners, men and women, who have completed six months formation training of Silsilah on the “CULTURE OF DIALOGUE, ITS ROLE IN THE TRANSFORMATION OF SOCIETY TOWARDS PEACE”.
Every time there is a special occasion in the city jail of Zamboanga where Silsilah regularly gives formation or whenever there is an urgent request to help, I always give priority. I know that we cannot do so much in that place with two thousand eight hundred male inmates and about three hundred female inmates. We have been informed that 80% are there for alleged or real violations related to illegal drugs. I think that the least attention I can give to them is to listen to their stories. This story that I will share here is a true story that I heard during the graduation. I was touched by the sharing of all the graduates and I chose one of the written testimony of a lady.
She said: “I am (name……) 24 years of age from (a place of Zamboanga…) I grew up with my grandparents. My lolo and lola took care of me. They provided my needs and gave me shelter. Eventually they both passed away. My real parents are separated. I’m deprived of love from my real parents and I believed my mother hated me since birth. After my grandparents died, I lived on my own. Then, I started to meet friends and went along with them, they introduced me to drugs and alcohol and I got hooked with those vices… At that time I thought those things are the ones that will fulfil my needs. I felt the satisfaction like there is no end to it. I was happy all the way enjoying life to the fullest. I stopped thinking about my future. I didn’t know what’s right or wrong anymore. I was out of this world, until that day November 19, 2016, I got arrested with drugs and was put behind bars. At that point my world went upside down, and I’m still here in Jail for a year now. Here I have to go through a lot of changes, to face the consequences of my actions. I was in denial and went through the stages that I have to accept the fact that I have done wrong to myself. I had no direction, no plans, nothing worth saving my life. But during my stay here I learned a lot. I grew up, little by little, I recovered and came to realize what life has for me. Indeed life is beautiful God is good. God saved my life, He gave me a chance to live again……
Despite all of this I try hard to look at the brighter side of life. Eventually I made new friends, and became part of my family, I’m finally with people who truly understand me. I immersed myself in doing different kinds of activities – Bible study, Bible sharing – and I joined Silsilah. At first I just wanted to be part of Silsilah just keep myself busy. Until finally I realized what Silsilah is and its impact on our lives and the changes it wrought to each of us. Silsilah taught me what Dialogue truly means, its importance in the lives of people, the consequences wrought with the lack of it, the benefits that are reaped when you engaged into it. Personally I am happy being here. It made me a better person, having taught me that there are ways to overcome conflict, resolve issues and generally enhances relationships. It helped me bridge the gap that exist between people of different creed, different race, tradition, color and culture. Basically it creates a path to a better communication, live with each other fostering a community, that is open and with a clearer perception on how the world works. It also helped my personal life. Indirectly Silsilah helped me regain my family’s trust and confidence which I lost when I was arrested. It showed how important dialogue, it’s not just between friends and other people just within your family and within our self. Silsilah gave it all back to me and showed me more, showed me a different world a more peaceful, calm and dignified way of living.
Thank you SILSILAH!
Indeed transformation can happen in the heart of all. This has to encourage all of us who wish to help others to continue our mission with hope guided by the three “S” of SINCERITY, SENSITIVITY and SOLIDARITY.
-FR. SEBASTIANO D’AMBRA, PIME-
Founder of Silsilah Dialogue Movement