24 November 2014

The Netherlands


Moria Foundation celebrates 20th anniversary

The Moria Foundation in Nijmegen, which provides after-care to young men after they leave prison, is celebrating its 20th anniversary. As part of the celebration Moria`s Board and staff wanted to reflect with other people on their experiences over the past twenty years with the participants in the programme. And so a conference was held on November 13th at the villa that houses the project. The theme of the conference was, “Finding a balance between freedom and rules.” 

Brother Jacques Scholte, one of the founders, talked about the simple start of the project twenty years ago. An article on the launch of Moria in a regional newspaper at the time led with the heading, “Priests catch villains”.

André Stuart, the Director of Moria, then explained that their goal is to provide a stopping place where “travellers” can take some time to replenish their reserves and reflect on the continuation of their journey. Moria encourages young people to believe that they matter, and offers support in dealing with their freedom, as the closing of the prison door behind them is often only the start of a long process of growth. A short film featuring members of staff and (previous) participants emphasized who is at the centre of attention at Moria.

In the months prior to the conference a blog served as a public think tank in the search for balance in the care of (ex-)offenders. Professional carers, policy makers, lawyers, psychologists, chaplains and (ex-)participants shared their thoughts about the question of how to put a noble ideal – to see, and to learn how to see, young men through different eyes – into practice. During the symposium Arjan Broers, one of the bloggers, shared what twenty years of experience had taught those involved in Moria. He stated that there are many complaints about the system, the distrust, and the failure to appreciate the essence of the work. His advice was to work from a foundation of trust and hope. The quality of the work is entirely dependent on the attitude with which it is carried out. At Moria, the inspiration of the religious congregations involved helps to focus on seeing the person. And finally, we have learned that relapse is (often) part of recovery. A certain percentage of the young men relapse and that hurts. The point is to continue to see them, in times of darkness as well – and not to lose hope. For we all hope to be part of a society which allows us to fall and pick ourselves up again, and which will extend a helping hand when we do.

Following this main part of the programme those present continued the sharing in three workshops, addressing questions such as, “Does the system determine our values or do we? And how do we do that?” It was an inspiring afternoon with a diverse group of professional carers, youth and detention workers, Board members, ex-delinquents, religious and students.

Will van de Ven,

KNR (Conference of Dutch Religious)

 

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