04/21/2010, 00.00
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Manila, nuns and volunteers, messengers of hope in prison

by Santosh Digal
Eight Sisters of the Congregation of the Servants of the Holy Eucharist (SHE) have started a rehabilitation project aimed at prisoners. 500 volunteers working for 15 years in 36 prisons Philippines. The aim is to restore dignity and confidence to criminals and repair damage caused to the victims.

Manila (AsiaNews) - Taking care of prisoners and their families, transforming the concept of "crime against the state" to "injury to an innocent victim," using the retention period as a time of "correction," spreading the hope of God's love in the prisons of the country. It is the mission journey undertaken by eight nuns of the Congregation of the Servants of the Holy Eucharist (SHE), which has involved more than 500 volunteers, men and women. Over the past 15 years the sisters have spread the Gospel and restored dignity and trust to thousands of prisoners being held in 36 prisons in the area of Manila, the capital of the Philippines.

Sister Zenaida Cabrera, coordinator of the Caritas program of assistance to the detainees, told AsiaNews the purpose of the initiative: "Our main concern is support to prisoners and their families." The project focuses on developing a corrective and rehabilitative community, who can support the prisoner during incarceration and reintegration into society at the end of his or her sentence. "The principle of a rehabilitation justice system - continues Sister Zenaida - aims to restore a life to prisoners, their families, and community and, above all, make sure they are aware of the love of God."       The main aim of the project initiated by the religious community is the birth of a recovery based on the principles of “justice and Christian charity”, to spread the message of Christ to prisoners and to all detention centres in the Philippines. Today the work of nuns and volunteers focuses mainly on the Catholic diocese of Manila, Antipolo, Calcoocan, Cubao, Novaliches, Pasig and Paranqque.  

The sisters also want to show a different perspective of the "crime" of detainees. The crime should not be regarded as a violation of the rule of law "but, according to Judeo-Christian tradition as a" wound "inflicted on the victim and his family. Here, therefore, that the parties are no longer the guilty and the State, rather the victim, the offender and their families, community and then the state.  

In this sense, the objective is no longer the "punishment" of the guilty, but to repair the damage, restore balance in relations and restore peace within the community.

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