Letter from a Westville Prisoner

Dear Captain,

Do you believe that everything happens for a reason? That there are no coincidences in life, that everything is as it should be? Well I certainly do now more than ever.

I firstly want to take this opportunity in expressing my heartfelt gratitude to you for embracing us in this wonderful project of 67 Blankets for Mandela. With enthusiasm, optimism and excitement you gathered us together as your children, teaching and guiding us through the beautiful process. We value your love, kindness, patience, creativity and especially the humour which will certainly remain in our memory books forever. You are truly a great leader, a dynamic motivator and a powerful inspiration to all of us. Thank you once again for empowering and encouraging us.

I also wish to share with you my humble experience through the very meditative journey. In whatever way the project came into being, I believe it has reach us prisoners through divine grace. Personally for me it started off with excitement of giving back to the community and finding something to do with my time here. Little did I know where this was taking me. It was like setting sail in the ocean with a planned destination but finding myself in an unknown place. As soon as the wool and hooks were handed out, I confidently took it to my little space giving thanks to our Almighty for affording me this wonderful opportunity. “God never turns his back on us”, I thought as I recall our disappointment when my family brought me a crochet hook and wool which was disallowed. Who would have thought that 14 months later I would be part of a crochet project. From the first day of practice, I realized that this beautiful skill that I picked up from watching my grandmother crochet (bless her soul) was only a fragment compared to the wealth of knowledge you shared with us after the first day of trial and error. The next day saw me picking out those beautiful colours of wool with such divine confidence. Without even a plan in mind, I started my square the way you taught me, When by the end of the day you measure our desired sizes and oriented out a plan for each of us, I was able to see some direction so I started crocheting squares upon squares without any realization of the mental, emotional and spiritual impact this was having in my life.

Physically I was putting together a blanket but something far more greater and powerful was happening within me. This because such a meditative process as I went into. Such retrospection and introspection. A recollection of heartbreaking and heartwarming experiences took me through some reality check. Images of the past played out so strategically so as to bring about a process of healing, The dramatic replay of event and the reality of the situations probed many questions:

1, The impact we have on others’ lives as my grandmother would never have known that 35 years later her granddaughter would us the skill in such a powerful way.

2, My years of living in poverty growing up with an ugly, tattered and torn blanket that my sister and I shared. I made a conscious decision to make this blanket so beautiful that someday a little girl would love and treasure it with peaceful sleeps and dreams. May she be blessed with fond memories.

3. Only when working with the colours did I realize that the colours I chose were all my children’s favourite colours. I realized more than ever the severity of my crime and consequences of my fears and anxieties. This also took me to the last time I had the freedom to contribute to the 67 minutes for Mandela Day and how heartbroken I was that I could not contribute last year.

Right now I feel refreshed, rejuvenated and purposeful. I am really, really so very thankful to every energy that has contributed to this magnificent project. The experience for me has been phenomenal, far beyond any words could describe. I only wish you could feel the joy in my heart and the powerful vibration of my inner being at this time. I am really looking forward to many more of these wonderful experiences.


Offender at Westville Correctional Services