Photo by Lucy Collins
Inmates Joseph Paul and Pradel Lucas were so touched by the Peace Education Program that they wanted to offer the workshop sessions to their fellow Haitians behind bars at the Everglades Correctional Institution (ECI) in Miami, Florida. So, with the support of prison officials and outside volunteers, they started translating the workshops into Haitian Creole so their fellow countrymen who don’t speak English could benefit.
Joseph, a secondary school teacher by profession, simultaneously translates the peace education videos of Prem Rawat’s talks. He also provides consecutive interpretation of the inmates’ reflections and discussions as the sessions unfold. Here’s what Joseph says about how the program has impacted his life:
“Participating in the Peace Education Program so directly has given me the opportunity to experience an inherent gift that I have rediscovered. This program has enhanced my awareness of the strength, humility, beauty, and love that I already possess, and it has shown me that, because I am a human being, these things exist within me. I have a renewed sense of harmony and appreciation in my life, and more love and devotion toward humanistic values and concerns.
“I am honored to fulfill the essential function of Creole translator, which allows the workshops to be understood by the Haitians who would not otherwise be able to participate. It also gives me a better chance to understand the value of peace education in my own life.
“My dedication to this program has rewarded me with the ability to live free of animosity and adversity, and to experience contentment and serenity. I am learning to be at peace with myself.”
Pradel Lucas, a trained paralegal who assists his fellow inmates with legal issues, also says that his involvement with the Peace Education Program has been a deeply moving experience.
“Being a part of the Peace Education Program helps me to understand the value of having peace from within—a divine gift that cannot be given, nor found outside of myself,” he says. “The videos have made it clear that, without inner peace, there can be no true happiness; that peace is a necessity, and that it’s already within each and every one us. I hope this message, and the Peace Education Program, will reach Haiti one day.”
These are a few comments from the other participants in the Creole peace education sessions at ECI:
“I remember this saying: ‘Sometimes the wrong decision leads you to the right place.’ I know I committed crimes and I ended up here. But if I wasn’t here, I would never have heard of the Peace Education Program. I am finding me, the most important thing.”
“This program is the highlight of my week. Something was missing in my life, and this is helping me to find it. It’s important for everyone around the world to have access to this program!”
“From listening to this program, I am learning to break the cycle of confusion and poor choices that brought me to prison.”
“It has been an honor to listen to these videos. It’s about something I knew as a child and that I need to learn about myself again. The videos are powerful. I am learning about the importance of the breath.”
“I have experienced more peace since I began listening to Prem in January than in the 18 years I have been here.”
“I have been walking through my life like a dead man. I am acting in a different way now. I bring love in. I am alive, I am grateful, I am at peace.”
(The Peace Education Program materials have been translated into 37 languages, including Mauritian Creole. Until now, there hasn’t been a demand for Haitian Creole.)