The humedica team on-site: Thomas Katzenbach, Ulrike Knödler, Rahel Röthlisberger and Hansi Sobez. Photo: humedica
With the help of God
The prisons in Togo are full. More than full. They are so hopelessly overcrowded that the prisoners can’t find any place to lie down and must sleep in shifts. The tragic fact: more than 65 percent of the inmates haven’t been sentenced and are still waiting for their accusation. Sometimes for years long. The results are diseases which are being transmitted by too much proximity, bad nutrition and polluted water. humedica has sent a field unit, in order not to leave the inmates alone with their fate.
After a 20-year-long interruption because of serious violations of Human Rights in the 1990s, the former German colony Togo now maintains good relationships with Germany once again. Despite considerable improvements in the Human Rights since 2006, there are still big deficiencies.
Besides allegations of bribery and the weak positon of women, especially the situation in the justice system is being denounced. Long waiting times until the trial, dilapidated and much overcrowded facilities, a bad hygienic and medical care are only some of the inmates’ problems.
In the context of a mission in cooperation with the organization Prison Fellowship Togo, which has been committed to the rights and problems of prisoners and their families for 20 years, it has been possible for humedica to send a team of four doctors to Togo. humedica coordinator Dr. Thomas Katzenback reports:
“Personally, I have been much blessed by this mission. Our team, which consisted of Dr. med. Ulrike Knödler, Dr. Rahel Röthlisberger and Dr. Hansi Sobez and which has been highly motivated, skilled and able to work under pressure, has made the prison missions a full success.
Our on-site team has been completed by the incredible support of Pastor Martin Anaw, the head of PF Togo and his team. From time to time, our support team even consisted of 50 persons! They cared for the complete planning, anticipated all our wishes and spread a good mood with their contagiously cheerful behavior.
In all, we have worked in eight prisons. Two in Lomé, one of them a Juvenile Detention Center and three in the surroundings of the capital. In the context of a four-day trip across the country, we have visited three other prisons further away.
In each prison, it has rapidly been clarified how and where we were positioned, as to start work rapidly. The patients have been recorded, came to measure their blood pressure and have then been examined by our doctors.
After the treatment, they had the possibility, with our prayer team, to ask for the help of God. Thus, we have been able to give the prisoners holistic support in their physically and mentally difficult situation.
We were absolutely free in all the prisons. The prison chiefs, the guards and the inmates were all very friendly and obliging, which made our work easier. Of course, there have also been difficulties in the beginning because of lacking furniture of bad communication of the local responsibles concerning our arrival, but finally, everything could be settled quickly.
We have been shattered by the conditions in the prisons. Everywhere it was very full and crowded. Several times, inmates have asked us for food, because in one of the facilities they received hardly any food. In most of the prisons, there are skin and musculoskeletal diseases, as well as malaria, vitamin deficiency and all kinds of infections.
In meetings with prison chiefs and the Minister of Justice, we could clearly tell them about our observations and our propositions of improvement. PF Togo is controlling the compliance with the concessions they had promised us. We are sure that our propositions are going to be implemented, because of the strong and active PF Togo team. “
Despite the support of the United Nations, the necessary reforms, like the construction of new prisons, the training of new officers, as well as the employment of more prison staff, are only being implemented very slowly. Togo is one of the poorest countries of the world and ranks 162 of 187 developed countries.
That is the reason why humedica is going to continue to support the PFI team and to speak up for better living conditions of prisoners and their families.
With your help humedica can make the difference for the concerned people. Please continue your support with a donation. Thank you very much!
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