A testimony of hope for the youth of the Penitentiary Establishment for Minors (EPM) of Marseille.
Since 2015, alumni of the ACAY Philippines programs come to France annually to share their life stories with the youth of Marseille accompanied by ACAY. Their testimonies of hope create an impact and awaken the French youth to begin their own journey of transformation. This year, due to the COVID pandemic, the alumni could not come. The Marseille team found a solution from within: Why not involve a youth from Marseille who has been accompanied by ACAY for some time and is now reintegrated into society?
After five years of ACAY in Marseille, some of the youth are now ready to share their life experiences. Idrisse is one of them. Reintegrated into society, he wants now to share his life journey and transmit his achievements to the youth incarcerated in Marseille. He knows that his message of hope can raise awareness and motivate other youth to change their lives. Last August, for the first time, the Board of EPM authorized Idrisse to give his testimony to the youth in detention. During the three sessions, he spoke about his “unusual journey” as he defines it, as well as the elements that led him out of delinquency.
“When a young person talks to another young person: the impact is immediate. “
These sessions encouraged thought and debate among other young people. According to EPM educators, the testimony of Idrisse had a very strong impact. One of the youth shared: “What you said gave me hope, because once you were like us”. This experience does not stop there. Idrisse keeps in touch with these youth by way of letters or getting together with them after their release, in order to encourage them to make the right choices.
Following his intervention, Idrisse gave us feedback about his experience: “I was nervous about my return to EPM. My time spent in detention there was a painful part of my life: I experienced many things there, especially with the guards with whom I was in conflict. I was very proud to talk and to testify to the youth. A voice in my head told me; ‘You were there in their place, you have changed and evolved’. I think I touched them with my sincerity. I have the firm conviction that they will also make it through. In my opinion, accepting our past makes us better for the future’. Idrisse works in the building field and wants to be involved in the education of youth.