Getting incarcerated men in on International Men’s Day.
Since 2000, I have published the essays and poems of incarcerated men from Maine to Hawaii. Their essays and poems are moving, inspiring, and instructive.
It is an experience that has changed and continues to change my perspective about many things on many different levels. In 2009, I was selected to become the United States Coordinator for International Men’s Day. I soon discovered that incarcerated men were not being included in the International Men’s Day observances. This was not being done on purpose, but we are equally culpable for acts of omission as well as acts of commission. This discovery moved me to create an initiative that would bring incarcerated men into the International Men’s Day “equation”.
In 2012 for the first time, International Men’s Day was observed in an American correctional facility – the Clinton Correctional Facility located in Dannemora, New York. On Monday, 19 November 2012, the Clinton Correctional Facility joined individuals, institutions, and organizations throughout our global village in observing 2012 International Men’s Day under the theme, “Helping Men and Boys Live Longer, Happier, Healthier Lives”. The success of the inaugural observance of 2012 International Men’s Day at the Clinton Correctional Facility spawned the creation of the International Men’s Day “Healing and Repatriation Initiative” in January 2013.
Observances of International Men’s Day at correctional facilities have taken the form of workshops and discussion groups about a variety of issues that include but are not limited to education, reintegration, and reducing violence and crime in communities. A number of International Men’s Day Coordinators in other nations are now considering implementing this initiative in their respective countries.
For the second consecutive year, on Wednesday, 19 November 2014 — International Men’s Day under the theme, “Working Together For Men And Boys” — Bare Hill Correctional Facility located in Malone, New York participated in the International Men’s Day “Healing and Repatriation” Initiative which provides Incarcerated Men with the opportunity to join individuals, institutions, and organizations in 80 nations in celebrating International Men’s Day.
Under the leadership of Mr. Carry Greaves, a Senior Contributing Editor for In Search of Fatherhood(R) and the Empowerment Coordinator for International Men’s Day, a “Call To Prayer” was observed in conjunction with the International Day of Prayer for Men and Boys at Bare Hill Correctional Facility on 19 November 2014. The “Call To Prayer” was followed by a discussion forum consisting of Incarcerated Men who were in their 20s. The young men talked about their past and a vision for their future.
Mr. Greaves had this to say about the event:
“The International Men’s Day observance was beautiful, yet emotional. The participants gave testimony as to what they would like to accomplish in the future. They spoke about their lifestyle and families and what landed them in prison. The participants are very young men who, for the most part, did not have a father growing up. All of them blame the fact of not having a father in their homes as the reason why they went astray, joined gangs, sold drugs, and came to prison. But what I realized is that many of the youth today definitely need a constant guide in their lives. Someone who will take them under their wings and guide them in the right direction. There are so many variables as to why they are living a destructive lifestyle. But we can’t continue to just treat the effect and ignore the cause. We have to go to the root of the problem. We have to take a look at their education, their family life, and go full steam ahead and inspire them to look within so that we bring out the best in them. It’s a lot of work, but we can’t give up.”
So what is the International Men’s Day Healing and Repatriation Initiative all about?
It is about providing approximately 2,500,000 souls in the United States who are incarcerated in the United States with an opportunity to participate in a global event which encourages them to engage in critical thinking about issues that affect them, their families and loved ones, and the communities in which they have lived and will one day return to. It is about helping them to see themselves as ‘part of a whole’. It is one of the many ‘first steps’ that must be taken to heal and “reconnect” spiritually, psychologically, and emotionally approximately 700,000 souls who are released from American prisons every year and place them on the path to successful reintegration into society.
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