NUWAKOT, Nov 17: Basking in the afternoon sun, around 30 people are busy making hand-woven swirl stools. At the first glance, they look like normal workers employed at a manufacturing factory. But the reality is different.
They are actually inmates from Nuwakot prison who have been convicted of various crimes. But like many others, they are learning new crafts and skill sets which will enable them to financially support their families.
In fact, some of them are still the bread-winners of their families. The work has enabled them to gain entrepreneurial skills, take steps towards developing positive thoughts and leave behind their criminal background to some extent.
Dharma Bahadur Jamkattel of Battar in the district has been serving a jail term for the past five years. He recalls the first two years as being very stressful. He had given up the hope of living.
“I then got enrolled for learning the skill of making hand-woven swirl tools. I've been making such tools for the past three years and it has added excitement to my monotonous life,” he said.
Jamkattel further shared his plans to excel in his skills and make a living out of it after getting out of the jail. In the past, he used to rely on the money sent by his family to cover his prison expenses but the tide has turned now. Jamkattel now sends money to his family as he earns from his work in the jail.
The workplace is inside the prison and is run under its rehabilitation program. The inmates learn other skills as well, such as weaving clothes, socks and gloves. Making crystal necklace is another popular skill taught in the prison, especially to female prisoners.
Lila Maya Tamang is one of the female inmates learning the craft of making crystal necklace. She started her prison term three years ago and got enrolled in the training, which she embraced happily.
“The training has helped us become independent. It also keeps us busy and prevents our thoughts from wandering off,” she said.
The prison in Nuwakot currently houses 162 inmates. They are being taught various skills to make them productive and skillful. According to Jailer Tanka Chimoriya, the inmates have shown a keen interest in the training.
“It is good for both the prison management and inmates. Being confined to enclosed cells for 24 hours affects the mental well-being of prisoners. Hence, their participation in income-generating activities has lots of benefits,” he said.