Gesit By Die Huis.

by Chris Kamalski

Prison makes sense if one has nothing to do.

Sitting with our friends in Enthomjeni Youth Prison this morning working through our Life Compass curriculum with them, Maxie was beginning to explain how each of the guys should take a personality assessment (Extrovert/Introvert stuff..) that a local educational psychologist would score this week in preparation for her visit with us to explain how personality affects choice and life direction this coming week. The personality assessment has a space where you list your current occupation (Favorite past response to this question: “Robbery.”). We were joking with the guys this morning that none of them were allowed to write in ‘prisoner’ or ‘house break-in,’ which they all found hilarious, and if an effort to not discourage they guys, Maxie wisely suggested that they write down what they used to do prior to being in prison.

One of the kindest, most interesting guys in the course this time is a young man named Wayne Poe. Wayne mentioned that he loves to swim, which Maxie and I both found super interesting, as a lot of South Africans from more impoverished backgrounds haven’t had the privilege to learn how to swim before, and have somewhat of an innate fear of water. When we were leaving prison this morning, Maxie pulled out Wayne’s paper and simultaneously smiled and sighed with the weight of his answer as to his previous occupation:

“Gesit By Die Huis” (Translated from Afrikaans, this means “Sitting Around The House).

We laughed at the irony of this response, while shaking our heads at how ensnaring poverty truly is. We both found ourselves wondering, If Wayne was given enough opportunity to pursue swimming instead of sitting around the house, would his lack of boredom have prevented him from a life of crime?

[Our most recent ‘Field Stories’ update ‘Refusing to Perish,’ about our work with fellow inmates like Wayne, can be downloaded here]

[Our latest ’60* Second Field Stories’ email can be read here]

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