Choice: The Peace Education Program at Zonderwater Prison


Zonderwater is a maximum security
prison located in Cullinan, South Africa. It houses 3,000 inmates,
1688 of which are maximum offenders, and 476 of which are serving
life sentences. It is known as one
of the most progressive prisons in South Africa. When I was outside
before I was arrested, and then awaiting trial,
I was always focused outward. I was worried what other people
were thinking of me, I was… running around trying
to impress others all the time. I was wearing masks the whole time. Reality is that I was distracted, mentally and physically, due to this thought
that people with money, they live good life. So, I was distracted and desperated
for money, of course. My life before I came to prison,
I thought I was living well… but not realizing
that I’m lying to myself. Because I was somebody
who was ruthless, who was heartless. It was hard. The first time I arrived here,
it was made very much difficult for me, especially to accept the situation
at which I was, after I had been sentenced. It’s a bit hard, because… it’s a place where I… I first knew what prison is, with it. And… It was nerve-racking. Life in Zonderwater before
Peace Education was tough for me. Since 2009,
the Peace Education Program has been made available to inmates
at Zonderwater Prison. I used to see inmates
behaving in a bad way. But some others, I encouraged them
to do the program, after me, after I’ve seen
the first piece of transformation, after doing
the Peace Education Program. So I encouraged them
to do the program. So after telling them,
some of them, I can see that indeed,
even the environment inside, it is changing for the better. It’s so amazing and wonderful
to see changes in offenders. Also the influence it has on officials. Sometimes we don’t see the value
of these programs to offenders, but when we see them confess the good that it has done
for them, it makes it wonderful. I was like a person who don’t talk. I was like, you know, I was ashamed to talk to people,
because of what I did. But since I’ve done
this wonderful program, the Peace Education, I’m good. Now I know, I know myself. For the first time in my life,
I started looking at myself, accepting myself
and actually loving myself. And that made a huge difference
in my life. It changed my whole outlook. Since I started to attend
the peace talks, it has been to me like something has opened
in my life. Because I started to realize
that I was stuck in the past. How did the court,
the judge judged me… the community I’m coming from…
all those things. And I thought maybe, it looks
as if my life has been taken away. But since I started to do
Peace Education Program, I started to realize that, “No. Nobody ever take my life away,
or my peace away.” The most important thing is,
I must enjoy my life. There’s a difference between somebody
who attended this program and who didn’t. You see the way they behave. They’re more calm.
They think through before they react. While somebody
who hasn’t done the program, immediately when we see them, they’re assuming
everything is wrong with them. So, there is an impact that we see when we are speaking to an offender
who has attended the Peace Program, compared to an offender
who hasn’t done it. The first moment I knew about
this Peace Education Program, I realized that I indeed found myself. I found who I am. I didn’t know that this peace
that they were talking about, I was having it already in my heart. But I was ignoring it.
The problem is I was ignoring it. The knowledge I have gained
behind bars, it’s more than… it’s far much greater than the time
I’m spending behind bars. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve gained knowledge
about my inner self. And it’s amazing
to know who you are. Because, if I knew that before,
I wouldn’t be here. For one to find peace,
it’s all about… one to find it within himself. It is priceless. It requires
not any circumstance to be paid. No, it’s something
that one has to search within himself. With it, that’s where
joy and happiness is. We definitely all need joy. And we love to have happiness.
We love freedom. So, at this moment,
I have gained so much freedom, when I’m still in the bondage. So, with this, I have gain a lot. Remember, the more offenders
are engaged in it, there are benefits for both themselves
as individual and the department. Because, that is about transformation.
That’s about change. So, we want more offenders
to participate. And we want more offenders
to go out. Because, remember,
some of these issues, they’re from outside. They came in being angry
because of the outside environment. So, for them to find inner peace
in the center, it’s a benefit for us. It’s not an ideal situation. But at least, they are the ones
to go out and say, “Guys, you don’t need to be in prison
to learn about peace. “It’s something you can do naturally,
yourself.” And so, it is very much imperative
that we continue with this program. It’s so exciting!
And I can’t wait to meet Prem Rawat. As a matter of fact,
from the time I have heard that Prem Rawat will visit us, I couldn’t sleep
till the day he’s coming, today. Wow! Please,
I want to meet Prem Rawat, of course. This is my first time.
And, I’m happy. I’m very happy to see that man, to see that international humanitarian,
to see that Peace Ambassador. I can’t wait to see him. It was an amazing feeling. He reminded us that we’re human,
and we have good inside. Mr. Rawat, since I’ve been attending
these programs a great deal, I mean, now they set me free. The facilitators that have worked with me
can tell you that I’ve been an angry man
when I came to this Center. But after going through this course, I’ve realized that I was blaming everybody
except myself. And I needed to forgive myself, in order for me
to find peace within myself. And in the same breath,
what I also like to say is that, we and the officials,
we are in this together. I would like to ask from you, isn’t it also of value if our officials
can also go through this course? My name is Andries. Mr. Rawat,
I would like to commend you about the job that you’re doing. I’ve attended this program
from May up to July. And it has made me look at life in a different perspective. Because we are a changed lot, we know what we are living for. You cannot change my past, but you can help me
shape my future. Thank you. Mr. Prem, I’ve got plenty of questions,
but I’ll try to stick on three. First question, this power, this energy,
the peace that is within us, I’d just like you to tell me,
where is it coming from? Because I’ve learned
from the Words of Peace program that we are born with it. So, who gave us this power source
that’s within us? The second question is, I’ve been trying to ask myself,
“Who am I?” I’ve got so many answers until I got even confused,
really, who am I. Because most people you ask,
“Who are you?” will tell you, he’s a lawyer,
“I’m a head of prison.” “I’m an engineer.”
“I’m a millionaire,” or anyhow, they will answer me. So, maybe if you honor me
and tell me, who is Mr. Prem Rawat? How do you define yourself,
if I would ask you, “Who are you?” Let me just stick to those two. – Thank you.
– Oh, thank you! Greetings to everybody. I would like to emphasize
a few more things, Mr. Prem Rawat, since I’ve been facilitating
these programs since 2010. You have forgotten to mention
one more thing. That, this is not
all about a religion… that is: Christianity, Islam,
Hinduism, and so forth. So, people want that
to be clarified. Because, one might take
this message otherwise. Thank you, Mr. Prem Rawat. There is something special today. Remember, each event
has a feedback. But it is a different way. We had a dance.
People are happy for five minutes. But for somebody to say,
“I found peace,” it’s a long thing. You can carry it forever. So, for somebody to say, “I understand, why I behave
the way I behave. “But now, I am behaving
differently,” it gives joy, like I said.
It also assists us as officials, because the way
we interact with them when we see the change, it also make us to see them
in a very positive way. And assists in terms of maintaining
peace and order in the center. So it is a different environment. It was indeed a different event,
compared to the other ones we did. Others, they are meant
just to pass through. But this one,
I think they are holding dearly, because it’s a permanent thing. For one to find himself and understand
what peace is all about, I think we did achieve something. I would like to thank himself,
Mr. Prem Rawat, for changing our lives. You know, coming here
in Zonderwater maximum prison, it really changed peoples’ life a lot. Being here, he is the best. Being here, he changed us
to the better. Being here, he helped us. To date, 950 people have been through
the Peace Education Program at Zonderwater. 4 inmates from the correctional facility
have been trained as facilitators and are now running the program
themselves. Peace Education Programs
are now running in more than 125 correctional facilities
worldwide.

37 thoughts on “Choice: The Peace Education Program at Zonderwater Prison”

  1. Tears of utter joy, complete hope and gratitude to Prem Rawat, yet again and again! For 40+ years, he has been in my life and his gift and message is always the same…and always growing ! Heart dancing …

  2. I wonder,why common people dont like this kind of information;someone tries to help,I could be the first one speaking this,if someone wants;especially in prisons,althought this is nit the fact of speaking,but feeleing peace within.

  3. thank you Prem Rawat and all those folks who participated in this exquisite video. So easy to watch and be reminded of that peace inside, and the choices I have today. <3

  4. Prem Rawat showed me many years ago where my centre is. So happy to see so many more having the opportunity. And so wonderful to be reminded.

  5. Com este video senti algo muito entusiasmante, algo que não sentia a muito desde que tenho o conhecimento…

  6. Cette présentation est extraordinaire et nous démontre la puissance du Programme d'Éducation à la Paix. Merci à Prem Rawat pour ce programme puissant qui transforme la vie de tant de personnes. Merci pour sa force, sa puissance et sa grande générosité.

  7. Tanta esperanza. Esperanza real, darse cuenta de que ya no hay necesidad de huir de la realidad, porque la realidad resulta que no es terrible, la realidad es algo en lo que profundizar cada día, cada momento. Para descubrir su belleza.                                  Gracias sr. Rawat

  8. What a fabulous love you have for life and All of us Maharaji!!! 🌻😍 Thank you for Knowledge and for coming to speak to us over and over and over and over again… that we might wake up and stay awake!!

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