VOM & UNDP
There is a renewed thrust now in agriculture, not only here in Trinidad and Tobago, but also internationally. Nations are wondering, because of the global financial crisis whether or not they will be able to feed their nations and be self-sustainable. VOM is prepared to be a part of the agricultural initatives that has been brought forward. The organization is involved with the United Nations Development Fund through the Employment For Sustainable Rehabilitation and Reintegration.
One of the objectives of this initiative was to implement a project that would successfully introduce the concept of sustainable land management and bio-dynamic and organic farming in (12) acres of land that the organization has acquired in Wallerfield. VOM has already provided training in sustainable agricultural farming methods and animal husbandry. VOM would like to provide employment, both permanent and seasonal to a minimum of (50) ex-inmates, upon their release from incarceration, as well as for those delinquent youth who have participated in our Resettlement Programme (Employment for Sustainable Rehabilitation and Reintegration).
In the second day of her mission to Trinidad and Tobago, UNDP Administrator, Helen Clark, visited the project Vision On Mission. This initiative, supported by the UNDP Small Grants Programme (UNDP SGP) – aims to promote and sustain restorative justice and crime prevention in the country.
Dedicated to rehabilitation, successful re-integration of ex-inmates into society, anti-crime strategies and re-education, Vision On Mission was founded in 1995 in Port-of-Spain Prison by Wayne Chance when he was incarcerated. His goal was to assist ex-inmates on their release to re-enter society, find gainful employment and access to accommodation.
The other main objective is to advocate issues that affect incarcerated individuals. By 2005, Vision On Mission is funded by the Ministry of Social Development and recognized by the Ministry of National Security. Being a part of the national machinery responsible for Restorative Justice in Trinidad and Tobago, Vision On Mission understands that crime awareness and prevention begins with the individual and in turn the community and then filters out to the wider society.
Previous to the formation of Vision On Mission, there was no organization in Trinidad & Tobago or the wider Caribbean that performed such services for ex-inmates. Its services to the offender and ex-offender population include education and training, counseling, transition accommodation and meals, employment assessment and placement, re-integration monitoring, money management plan and medical assistance.
In her visit to the project office –a house in T&T capital, Port of Spain- the Administrator, accompanied by RBLAC Director Heraldo Muñoz, had the opportunity to discuss results achieved by Vision on Mission including those outcomes accomplished through UNDP’s SGP intervention, learn of the experiences of ex-inmates and their re-integration process back into society, and to highlight the relationship of the work done by this organization and the recommendations of the Caribbean Human Development Report (CHDR) on Citizen Security. Three ex-offenders, including the Executive President of Vision On Mission, Mr. Wayne Chance, shared their story and experiences, and highlighted the important role that the Centre played in their rehabilitation back into society. They also explained some of the hardships involved in re-settling such as gaining employment. The Administrator noted and affirmed the importance of projects that focus on restorative justice.
“Providing ex-offenders with second chances to re-establish their place in society is also one of the key development objectives”, said Helen Clark.
Years ago the project strengthened its support services by establishing an employment agency to ensure effective job placement and monitoring for sustained employment. The UNDP SGP grant of US $25,000 allowed the organization to implement its Employment for Sustainable Rehabilitation and Re-integration Project. As part of this plan, 300 prisoners were trained before release and 120 prisoners were trained after release.
A second grant of US$ 50,000 from SGP in 2009 allowed the organization to expand its employment initiative with another project focused on sustainable land management and food production for ex-offenders and deportees to find suitable employment in the agricultural sector.
The UNDP SGP has over the past 8 years supported 20 Civil Society Organizations of Trinidad and Tobago in the implementation of projects which address critical social issues related to healthy family functioning. More specifically these issues included Gender Based Violence, Crime and Security, HIV and AIDS, Parenting, Income Generation and Employment, and Youth Delinquency. Vision On Mission was one the organizations to receive UNDP SGP funding.