Our prison system is full of people - most of them brilliant and yet helpless - who are paying for the sins of their fathers. Most of them will one day have children who will find themselves in a never-ending vicious circle of coming in and out of prison. I have met men who are serving their sentences and either have parents who were once imprisoned or they were given birth to while their mothers were in prison. This reminds me of a visit Tracy Hanson, my wife and I had at the Animal Orphanage in February this year.
As we were being taken around, there was beauty all around us. There were beautiful and majestic birds and animals all going through rehabilitation before they can be taken back to their natural habitat. We saw and marveled at all of them, their current situation, future hopes and stories behind their being at the orphanage.
We laughed when a bunch of mischievous monkeys jumped all over the place, terrorizing and grabbing handbags from hapless women. We listened to the bird songs that filled the air with mirth and joy, hopes of dreams to be fulfilled in the near future. At about 3 pm a loud roar rent the air, and suddenly the mischievous monkeys, the buffalo that had spent the whole afternoon chewing curd, the Ugandan crane bird pecking at maize and the leopard that had been playing with a ball all stopped in their tracks.
Everything stood still. And you could tell that the lion is indeed, the king of the jungle. And one by one, the twenty lions at the orphanage, roared while every activity that had filled the space and atmosphere came to an abrupt stop. But don't be fooled, there is a sad twist to all of this bravado and chest bursting roar.
All of the lions are here to stay because having been rescued as young cubs and having stayed in captivity, they cannot be released back into the wild. They cannot survive out there. What's more, they are castrated and cannot bring forth future prides of lions that will continue their lineage. They can sex all they want to and have continue flirting with fantasies of seeing their children take over the mantle of roaring and still not see their dreams become a reality.
Long after all the roars had died down and all the activities resumed - chirping, grabbing of handbags, kicking balls and chewing curds - I never looked at the pride of lions the same again. Their pride in captivity suddenly turned into a source of shame, nothing to be proud about and in the words of Gramps Morgan and his siblings; there is nothing to smile about!
"Why are lions castrated?" I asked.
"Lions are the only animals that cannot be taken back to the wild," our guide explained. "They are not wired to function the way they would have had they not been rescued from danger."
"What kinds of dangers were these ones rescued from?" my wife asked.
"Most of them were rescued after their mother had been killed in a road accident while others had been rescued from a rival male lion that had killed their father and taken over the territory. And because they have lost their instincts to hunt, fight and protect their territory, these lions will live and die in captivity."
"And leave no cubs behind to take their place?" I asked.
Well, I have been in forums where a motivational speaker used an image of a cat whose shadow is a lion. While that can inspire someone to find the courage to pursue their dreams and goals in life, the same cannot be said of a boy in juvenile prison - and especially if that boy has been told he is free to go home and has nowhere to call home.
That simply means I have to do all I can to find a place Diamond will call home. Sister Bertina has guaranteed she will find us a school and will accompany us to court whenever Diamond has court hearings. Because the court has given him a free bond, meaning he is free, finding a place to stay will enable Diamond to exit prison and successfully reintegrate into the community as we continue the rehabilitation and reconciliation process. Otherwise, the shadow behind the cat may laugh into our faces...
How to Get Involved
Come and volunteer with us
Connect us with organizations that donate resources for boys such as mountain bikes, books