Let me tell you who you are…

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I was asked to write an appreciation letter for “Prison Volunteers’, and to be honest, that sounded to me like the most boring piece of writing that I ever had to author. I think I felt that way because of the term “Prison volunteers”. It just didn’t jive with me.

So, I’m not sure with what authority – but from now on – I order **censored by Corrections Canada 🙂 ** and all his/her Social Development minions to never use that term again! I mean, even the Soviet Union was more creative than that!

At this point, I was intending to seek your input to help us come up with a new term that all agree on, but since prison is no place for democracy, I, Zakaria Amara, will dictate to you all what that new term will be!

Jokes aside…
Words matter…
Terms matter…
The way we view ourselves matters…
And the way we view our own deeds and actions matters…

You are not just “Prison Volunteers”
You are Angels of Hope…

In life, and especially in a place like this, hope is to the soul, what Oxygen is to the body. Behind these walls, hope is an endangered species, and you are the people who come in here to rescue it.

I once wrote a poem called “This place” and it goes like this:

Snakes lurk in this place
They are all highly venomous
Leave no skin exposed

This place is very cold
Your soul shivers and trembles
Only faith can warm it

This place is very dark
Eyes of the head malfunction here
Insight is required

This place is very sad
Joy is considered contraband
Learn to smuggle it

This place clips you wings
It fills your lungs with despair
Fly on the wings of hope

I call you “Angels of Hope” because you remind us that human kindness and compassion are alive and well.. that this world has not gone to hell yet…

I call you “Angels of Hope” because you remind us that Society has not completely turned its back on us…

I call you “Angels of Hope” because you remind us that there are still human beings who are able to see themselves in others… A trait that is rare to find…

I know that it’s hard to get in here sometimes… and even when you do show up, many of us don’t. I also realize that the meetings rarely follow a Hollywood script and they sometimes leave you thinking, “What’s the point?

To that, I say: Even if you don’t manage to change anything or anyone for the better, the
experience itself changes you…. Your own soul gets molded and shaped and altered by your own act of kindness.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, an ex-Soviet prison camp survivor, once wrote:
“And each of us fashions his soul himself, year in and year out. You must strive to temper and to cut and polish your soul so as to become a human being”

Thank you…

To read my story, click here: The Boy and His Sand Castle

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