Playground for Hope! Seychelles beauty queen realizes dream to offer friendlier environment for prison inmates to interact with children
The playground is the first such facility to be built at the Seychelles prison. (Salifa Magnan, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - It’s got two swings, a vibrant wooden built jungle gym and even a few rabbits and guinea pigs, waiting to be observed and fed, but it is one playground in Seychelles that is targeting a very 'unique' group of children.
The ‘Playground for Hope’, an initiative of the Miss Seychelles… Another World 2015, Linne Freminot opened its doors on Tuesday at the Montagne Posée prison, Seychelles’ main incarceration facility situated in the lush tropical mountains leading to the western part of the main inhabited island of Mahé.
It is the first such facility to exist at the prison, a place that is generally inaccessible to the general public and guarded by security officers; aiming to offer a pleasant environment where inmates can interact with their children.
“For me this project means enhancing the family bond. Inmates are people with families who I feel should be able to spend quality time with their kids. Miss Seychelles has provided a platform to achieve such a project…..It’s a dream come true,” said an emotional Freminot.
|Miss Seychelles... Another World 2015 helping out the kids to try out the swings. (Salifa Magnan, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY
It was while getting more involved with the restorative justice programme run by the prison where convicts get to come face to face with the victims of their crimes that the Seychelles beauty queen started to wonder about the inmates and how they get to interact with their children while incarcerated.
With the help of South African Reverend Jonathan Clayton, who initiated the rehabilitation programme [restorative justice] for prisoners in Seychelles, 22-year-old Freminot started to think of ways to create a more friendly environment for children coming to visit their parents at the prison.
Her idea to build a playground at the detention facility was taken onboard by a private construction company that has funded the entire project at a cost of almost $8,500.
It has taken three months to implement the project with the support of several organizations including the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB), environment oriented non-governmental organization Sustainability for Seychelles, as well as the prison staff.
“Right from the beginning it has been tough. We were having some difficulties to get sponsors [for the project] but then Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) advertised the project to various local businesses,” says Freminot.
It was then that Vijay Construction came forward offering to fund and build the playground.
Up to now children visiting their incarcerated parents had to do so in the designated visiting area.
While the same practice will continue, the prison authority has indicated that the playground will serve as an additional incentive for inmates; as those who are well behaved will get access to the recreational facility to see their children during visits.
A convicted prisoner is entitled to one visit per month whereas those on remand are entitled to one visit per week.
|The playground is expected to serve as an additional incentive for inmates; as those who are well behaved will get access to the recreational facility to see their children during visits.(Salifa Magnan, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY
“As the superintendent I can authorize additional visits to help [the inmates] with their rehabilitation program. Usually there is a one-hour limit, but there is always the possibility, when we see fit, to add some extra time. That is not a problem and [it] will be based on the cooperation we are getting from them,” Maxime Tirant, the Superintendent of the Seychelles Prisons told SNA in an interview.
According to figures provided to SNA by the prison authorities, there are currently 769 inmates in the Seychelles prison, the majority of them are Seychellois nationals. The figure includes 141 men who are being remanded and 584 male convicts whereas there are 34 female convicts and an additional 10 women being remanded at the prison.
The playground itself is only one component of Freminot’s community upliftment project entitled ‘Children’s Restoration Project’ which is also aimed at working towards helping the children of prisoners in the Indian Ocean island nation by monitoring their progress at school and providing extra lessons for them.
This is in line with the Miss World pageant’s objective of seeking ‘beauty with a purpose’.
|The project has cost almost $8,500 and has been funded by a local Construction company 'Vijay Construction.' (Salifa Magnan, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY
|Linne Freminot in a souvenir photo with various individuals and groups that have been working with her since her crowning to realize her 'beauty with a purpose' project. (Louis Tousaint, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY
Freminot who was crowned Miss Seychelles… Another World 2015 in May this year has high hopes that her ‘beauty with a purpose’ project is going to make a difference at the Miss World 2015 pageant, for which see is being groomed for since June this year.
Preparations for the global pageant, according to Freminot, are going well.
According to the official website of Miss World 2015, the contestants from all over the globe will have to take part in a number of challenge events leading up to crowning night. Aside of the beauty with a purpose projects the contestants also have to compete in the sports and fitness, talent, top model and multimedia challenge.
“I have this page on Facebook; ‘Miss World Seychelles’, it features all of the activity that I’m doing. I post things on a daily basis, and we must also work on a press release, which includes an introduction about my country, my project and myself. This will be judged...therefore, I have to be up to date on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram...”
The judges will be using the multimedia challenge to see how each of the contestants use the various media to present themselves, interact with fans as well as gather support.
“I am excited to see the girls… we have a group on WhatsApp [an instant messaging platform for smartphones] and we are chatting every now and then….each time I get a text from them, it boosts up my excitement and I’m just looking forward to it,” says Freminot.
|The reigning Seychelles beauty queen on the night she was crowned. (Joena Bonnelame, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY
The beauty queen will leave Seychelles tomorrow November 19, for China's city of Sanya on Hainan island where this year’s Miss World beauty pageant will be held.
The crowning night will be on December 19 when the reigning Miss World South African Rolene Strauss will crown her successor.
Seychelles beauties have been participating in the Miss World beauty pageant since 1969. Miss Seychelles of 1998, Alvina Grandcourt won the Miss Personality title when the island nation hosted the global pageant that year. The closest Miss Seychelles got to winning the world crown was in 1972 when Jane Stravens and in 1973 when June Gonthier made it to the top 15 finalists in the Miss World pageant.
Last year Camila Estico also made it to the quarter finals of the Miss World Talent competition.