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Healthy Prison Route giving inmates a path back to society

national February 18, 2019 01:00


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AT THE AGE of 21, /  university student Peung /found her life turned upside down /after taking part-time jobs /a few years ago. /


“My friend recommended these jobs, / saying that I would be paid /between Bt1,000 and Bt2,000 a day,” /says Peung (not her real name) /from Ubon Ratchathani Prison. 

Surprised but tempted / by the good pay, /she agreed to take parcels /to a post office for delivery. /Less than a month later, /while on her fourth assignment, she was arrested and charged with drug trafficking. /

“Inside the beautiful parcels / was not soap [as I was told] but bars of marijuana,” /Peung explains, trying to laugh off her past mistake /but with tears welling in her eyes. /

With eight kilos of marijuana / found in her possession, she was sentenced to nine years in jail. The court agreed to halve her term /because of her confession. /She appealed /and the penalty was reduced further to four years. /

She has now been behind bars for seven months, /with a long time still to go. /

But thanks to the Healthy Prison Route at the Ubon jail, Peung has managed /to cling on to her optimism /and tried her best to learn lessons from her past. /

“Before going to bed, / I reflect on what I have done./ Eventually I saw clearly that / I landed up in jail because I didn’t listen to my mum /and wasn’t happy with what I had.” /

Peung admits her family was not financially poor and, even after her father’s death, / she still received an allowance to cover her daily expenses and education. /

“But I overspent. I wanted to buy fitness courses to lose weight. I wanted new clothes /to dress up,” /she says. /

When she asked for more money, / her mother – a teacher – complained./ Fed up with nagging, /Peung thought it would be a good idea to take part-time jobs / like some of her friends, /who seemed to enjoy a good income. /

“Had I learned to suppress my unreasonable desires and listened to my mum, I would still be sleeping in my air-conditioned bedroom at home,” she says. /

Peung has a straightforward message for other youngsters like her: never ignore the good wishes and guidance of your parents. /

Like many of her fellow inmates, Peung says she had learnt a lesson and is determined to stay on the right side of the law. /

“After completing my time in jail, I hope I get the opportunities to return to a normal life. I want to sell vintage clothes and perhaps teach yoga.” /

Every day, Peung practises yoga behind bars and believes her skills will have developed by the time she walks out a free woman. /

“Yoga is good for both physical health and for the mind,” she says. “Yoga has given me a new life. I am calmer, more patient and more optimistic.” /

The Healthy Prison Route concept, which focuses on building a caring community at correctional facilities, has now been implemented at the Ratchaburi, Udon Thani and Ubon Ratchathani prisons. /

The concept seeks to ensure inmates enjoy physical and emotional well-being, and can return to the society as “quality citizens”. /





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