A bright future beyond the prison walls

A Special Projects case study

In the minors’ quarters of a central prison in Eastern Cameroon, Peter and Nana* are just two of a group of young men making great efforts to turn their lives around, away from crime and violence, by taking part in the Award. Having been introduced to the Award by their centre leader, the boys learnt of the positive impact it could have on them far beyond the confinement of the prison walls.  

In June 2018, the boys took up bag weaving, or tissage as it is known locally, for their Skills section of the Award. Their new-found skills have been celebrated in the prison and they are often referred to as ‘the bag designers.   

Special Projects

Their Award Leader said: “In prison, inmates have a lot of free time and when there is no activity to engage in, they often idle around sharing experiences of the crimes they had committed. It is during this time that one can learn even harder tricks to become a more hardened criminal. Involvement in the Award is helping Peter and Nana and other young inmates to learn practical skills and even social behaviour that is helping them while in prison, that will also help them when out of prison to earn a decent living and lead productive lives.”  

Peter and Nana completed their Bronze in February 2019. With the support from the International Award Foundation’s Special Projects grant, they have been given the opportunity to continue straight to Silver which they are enjoying immensely. Besides developing their bagweaving craft further, which they are teaching to other inmates as part of their Voluntary Service, the boys are also supporting the prison authorities to instil discipline in the cells.  

Their bags are being sold to prison visitors and even during exhibitions hosted by diplomatic missions in Cameroon. 

*Names changed to protect identity  

Funded by the Special Projects grant (Alternative Pathways Project of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Cameroon, 2018