Principal of the Velma’s Millinery Academy and founder of Velmasaccesories, Velma Owusu-Bempah in collaboration with The Fair Justice Initiative, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) aimed at tackling the stigmatization of prison inmates as well as providing advocacy, legal services and quality of life and vocation, are teaching the female inmates of the Nsawam the art of millinery.
Under the support of the Australian High Commission, Aid Programme they’re imparting the skills of making hats, fascinator and other pieces to the inmates.
On 30th August, 2019, the 2nd cohort of graduates completed their four week course in Millinery under the initiative. Each participant was presented with a certificate of completion as they showcased their work to guest in attendance.
Minister of Gender, Cynthia Morrison, ADP Edmund Boye of the Ghana Prison Service, Program Director of the Australian aid, Mrs Jennifer Turkson were amongst some of the high-profile guests present at the graduation ceremony.
Founder of the FJI, Ms Sarah Mary Adetola told guest and the media that her NGO has a firm resolve to help the marginalized in our societies and less vulnerable. The programme she believes will greatly reduce the rate of recidivism among inmates and urged inmates to put the skills they’ve acquired into good use.
In a speech to graduates and guest, Velma Owus-Bempah, who took them through the course, praised the inmates for their hardwork and passion for millinery.
“I run the same course in my newly established Millinery Academy in Accra, and I have to say that my students here at Nsawam Prison have been some of my best.” She said
Deputy Director of Prisons, (DDP) Joana Tackie-Otoo, was thankful for the gesture by the FJI, the Australian High Commission, the Gender Ministry and other stakeholders for their immense support in supporting a reformation process for the inmates.
On behalf of graduants, Fatima El-douadi popularly known as “Morocco” thanked the staff of the prison; instructors and the FJI for believing in them and promised not to disappoint them.
15 other students have signed up for subsequent courses under this scheme.
*Editor’s note: Images of inmates have been intentionally blurred to protect their identities and reduce the rate of stigmatization that might occur after their incarceration.