The Bomana Prison Project is a component of the Active City Development Program. It began in 2013 with the aim of using yoga intertwined with positive values as a rehabilitation support mechanism for prisoners. When the Bomana Prison Project began, it was based in the juvenile section and later expanded to the women’s and minimum security unit section. Presently, the ACDP yoga teachers continue to work with the juvenile inmates once a week.
Through the program inmates can ‘find their balance’ both literally and metaphorically. “We use the practice of yoga to give hope and encourage the inmates. We let them know that there is life after prison and that they are still important members of society” says Ezra Adino, who is the Yu Yet, ACDP Yoga Manager.
Society often looks at prisoners negatively. Through the program the inmates can begin to believe that they are capable of seeing and experiencing positive change within themselves despite what others may think of them. The message weaved throughout the classes is that they can have a second chance at life to live positively if they choose to do so.
One such success story from the ACDP Bomana Prison Project is Gordon Gala. He was in the Bomana Prison as a juvenile offender for five years. He told us his story of how the yoga classes helped him. “In the prison we did a lot of hard labour. We worked all day and at the end of the day we were not given proper beds to sleep on. This was a part of the punishment. Sometimes we had pain from the hard labour” he recounted.
“I was able to fully relax in my mind and body during the yoga classes and felt some relief from the pain of doing physical labour” Gordon said.
When asked about his level of education Gordon stated, “I did not complete my education so after I got out of prison I was working as a security guard. It was during that time that I was asked to join the Active City Development Program because of my character.” Presently I work as an admin assistant with the Active City Development Program.”
We asked Gordon to tell us what he would say to someone who wants to try yoga for the first time but may feel shy to take the first step to attend class. He responded by saying, “Yoga helps the body, physically mentally and emotionally. It will get your mind relaxed. For me, practicing yoga also helped me to build confidence in public speaking and addressing a crowd.”
When asked if he had any final words for Port Moresby’s youth Gordon encourages the youth by saying, “Set your priorities right. Focus your mind. Yoga will help you to do this. It helps us to think positively and respect one another no matter our ethnic backgrounds. Yoga has helped me to become a good citizen of this country. This is why I am here.”
The Bomana Prison Project continues to support inmates weekly by offering them better health and a brighter future.