Column: Peace Day Visit To Westgate Facility

September 24, 2018 | 1 Comment

[Written by Glenn Fubler]

In observance of U.N. Peace Day on Friday, 21/9/18, a delegation of diverse members of the community made a visit to Westgate. We wish to thank the Minister of National Security and the Acting Commissioner of Corrections for making this visit possible.

The Minister, whose prior commitments had not allowed him to accept the invitation to join the delegation had decided to send Pastor Leroy Bean in his stead.

The delegation included:

  • Kim Jackson: The Executive Director of Mirrors
  • Lynne Winfield: President of CURB and an advocate of Restorative Justice.
  • Pastor Leroy Bean: On behalf of the Ministry of National Security
  • Tulani Bulford: A 30-something entrepreneur & social activist – an IT private-contractor who services Westgate – thus regularly visits the facility.
  • Mayor Charles Gosling: Corporation of Hamilton.
  • Glenn Fubler: Imagine Bermuda
  • Cordell Riley: Research & Planning Coordinator at Bermuda College; member of CURB; has served as an adjunct-teacher at Westgate for the past 15 years.

Our delegation arrived at the site in enough time to be processed via the Westgate security procedures for an 11.30 am start to our session marking the International Day of Peace. Some 15 members of the Westgate population had responded to our invitation and we gathered in the facility’s chapel, sitting in a circle with visitors spread throughout the group.

It was later brought to our attention that perhaps half of those in attendance were serving life sentences. [Pastor Santucci, who serves as the Corrections Department Chaplain, also joined our gathering]

The members of the delegation each introduced themselves and then briefly explained what had personally motivated them [us] to visit Westgate on the occasion. The consensus amongst the group of visitors was that our intention was a desire to affirm the humanity of those incarcerated.

We then broke out into three sub-groups for a more intimate dialogue. Those gathered were asked to reflect on their personal history and share amongst themselves a particular occasion when they had a noteworthy experience of peace.

After 15 minutes, the subgroups were asked to determine what the common theme had come out and choose one of their number to share out to the whole gathering. However, the momentum of the dialogue was still in full flow and we continued up to a few minutes before Noon.

The whole group of 20 or so came together, standing in a close circle. We linked either arms/hands and observed the One Minute of silent reflection that the United Nations had invited the global family to participate in – a ‘wave’ across the time zones.

The subgroups subsequently re-assembled and eventually had a spokesperson provide a synopsis of the outcomes. This sharing proved to be quite rich. The members of the visiting delegation were impressed with the quality of the dialogue and the conclusions reached.

In closing the session at 12.15pm, I noted that it appeared that we had struck a chord and proposed that we look to repeat this process on a monthly basis.

Using a metaphor, I suggested that our lives could be considered a journey through a varied landscape and we all experience some time moving through a desert – for instance, a time of incarceration. Of course, we all make mistakes on our journey, but we should be aware that even when we are in the desert, that somewhere there is available an oasis. Access to our personal oasis is in our hands.

Upon leaving, we committed to work with the stakeholders to pull together a monthly session which would promote the personal empowerment of all involved, with some positive implications for the whole community.

- Glenn Fubler

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  1. eyes wide open says:

    The Minister of National Security,whose prior commitments of attempting to buy ‘titty milk’ (his own words) in a small Cereal Cafe in London while on Official Bermuda Business is a National Disgrace.

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