South Africa has the third highest crime rate in the world. For those serving time for their offenses, life can seem hopeless. But it was the hopelessness of ever having a chance at success that drove many of them to crime—the lack of dignity that squalid living conditions provoked, desperation to provide for their undernourished children, fury over the country’s unfair distribution of resources, an insidious legacy of Apartheid.
Punishment alone doesn’t seem to stop the revolving door of prison. Prem Rawat’s Peace Education Program helps break the cycle of bitterness by helping participants discover the inner strength and hope they need to make different choices and live more fulfilling lives.
Impressed by the impact that the program has already had at Zonderwater Prison and other prisons, the South Africa Department of Correctional Services recently met with Prem Rawat to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) expanding the workshops to all facilities throughout the country.
At the MOU signing celebration in Cape Town, Prem said, “The Peace Education Program aims to take those people for whom too many doors have been shut, whether those doors were shut by the society or their own actions or by the courts, whatever—without passing any judgment, to help them find a way back to themselves.”
Reverend Dr. Menzi Mkhathini spoke on behalf of the Commissioner General of the South African Correctional Service about their commitment to using the Peace Education Program as a tool for rehabilitation. “Those who are in our correctional facilities should still be treated as human beings.” He said, addressing Prem, “We are inspired by your message which focuses on the possibility for each human being, regardless of their circumstances, to experience inner peace. We have observed that your messages do not conflict with any religious beliefs or philosophies.”
Also, in attendance at the event was SABC Radio host Lumka Ngxoli, a passionate advocate of peace education, which she feels can reduce systemic gender-based violence and racism.
Inmates, guards, prison officials, and participants of the Peace Education Program in many other institutions and groups around the globe are discovering a profound reality—equal distribution of true wealth already exists within each of us, and it is immeasurable.
The Prem Rawat Foundation makes the Peace Education Program freely available. Learn more about the program in South Africa and beyond here.