Honours Programme Investors go to prison!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

“We read about it in the reports, or online, but it’s not until you see it for yourself do you really believe that our investments in Scouting are truly Creating a Better World”, says Lars Kolind.

Lars and his wife Vibeke were among the ten Honours Programme members who joined the Ugandan Scouts, to see how Scouting is making a difference to the country once known as the “Pearl of Africa”, in order to better understand the global importance of investment in this great cause.

First stop, prison – or rather to visit two prisons, where Uganda Scouts joined their peers in El Salvador and Hong Kong and are doing something incredible with young offenders:

Being a prisoner was not just about being locked in a cell, it was also about being excluded from society with no way back in, until I met a prison warden and Scout leader, Geoffrey Abwon, who changed my life,” Fred Sitchombo a Uganda “prison Scout” explains, (whilst standing in his unmissable yellow prison uniform).

Through the Messengers of Peace programme, Ugandan Scouts have recruited prison wardens as Scout leaders (150 warders have their Woodbadge) and supported them in vocational skill development – basket weaving, soap making, shoe repair and carpentry. In their prisons, the wardens have engaged 4500 young inmates right across the country and have begun to transform their futures. The impact is incredible - 95% of the inmates that joined one of the 86 local prison Scout groups have not returned to prison, are able to make a living for themselves and their families. Now they are upstanding members of their community and active Scouts!

Next, Lars, Vibeke and the team were taken to the national Scout campsite, where hundreds of street children from Uganda’s capital, Kampala have been taken in, provided with stability, safety and a home, and through the game of Scouting, these vulnerable young kids are given the most valuable benefit of all – hope. And because they are off the street, clean of drugs they are normally ready to return to their families. Most of the parents thought their child hadn’t survived street life and presumed them dead – imagine the joy when they were reunited!!

 “Field visits like this are crucial,” says Vibeke. “We have all been inspired by the passion and energy of the Scouts here in Uganda – but more importantly by the impact we can see on the lives of these young women and men in the prison groups.  I’ve simply never seen anything like it.  It is so motivating to see our investment paying off!  And what’s more, we have been able to help our Scout friends in Uganda link to local business leaders and Rotary here in Kampala.  This will help these local investors become more engaged in the future.”

As Lars concludes: “Each year the WSF organises a number of field visits – to help each of our investors see the global impact through local projects for themselves.  I believe everybody needs to take part in an Honours Programme field visit! Why not join our visit next year? 

Before we saw it for ourselves, the ‘polish’ of a country like the Pearl of Africa seems to have been dulled.  But when we are here, we can clearly see it shining brightly – what a vibrant society, what a great country – and one of the greatest groups of leaders helping to polish the “pearl” again is Scouting!”