Telecel Ghana’s Cell Time connects families beyond prison walls

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In the James Camp Prison in Accra, Abdul Salam clutches the phone with shaky hands as his baritone voice is filled with emotion during a rare phone call to wish his dad Mohammed, a happy Father’s Day.

“I want to wish you a happy Father’s Day. May Allah be with you and continue to make you great,” Salam said in Hausa. The silence on the other end stretched for a while, before an emotional and thankful response from his father filled the prison’s meeting room. “Hopefully by next year, I will be home,” Salam adds.

For many inmates within the confined walls of prisons, Father’s Day is often a stark reminder of the separation from their families. The crucial connection between prisoners and their families are usually strained for months and years during custody, denying them of the basic show of love and support from their relatives.

In an unprecedented and heart-warming gesture to change this narrative, Telecel Ghana with support from the Ghana Prisons Service organised Cell Time – a prime opportunity for consenting inmates to call their fathers or father figures in their lives to rekindle the family bonds they share.

Tears welled in the eyes of some inmates as they shared stories, apologies, and hope for a better future. Facilitated by seasoned Crime Check TV host, Ibrahim Kwarteng, the emotion-filled sessions connected prisoners to their fathers or older male relatives in their families and built bridges across miles by a simple phone call to mark Father’s Day on Sunday.

“At Telecel, we appreciate the importance of human connection and acknowledge the challenges of maintaining family relationships from behind bars. Our goal with this initiative is to bring families together despite the physical boundaries and minimise the sense of loss and disconnection prisoners often feel,” David Umoh, Telecel’s Director of Consumer Business Unit, said.

As the day came to a close, inmates were in high spirits, cherishing the memories of their conversations and grateful for the opportunity to reconnect and strengthen their family bonds. Telecel’s efforts were met with widespread appreciation from inmates, their families, and prison officials.

This small act of kindness has brought so much hope and happiness to the inmates,” said a prison warden. “We are grateful to Telecel Ghana for their compassion and dedication to keeping families connected, even from behind bars.”

For inmate Ernest, the conversation with the father figure in his life has given him a newfound sense of hope but also a moment of remorse and reflection as he shared advice to the youth, who constitute about 85 per cent of the national prison population.

Shortcuts to riches always end in misery or tragedy. Young people shouldn’t allow greed for money to lead them into activities that will end them up in prisons. Take your time and get things right,” Ernest said.

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