28-year-old multi-skilled ex-convict, Samuel Okyere from Nkorankan in Koforidua in the Eastern is struggling to get a job after his imprisonment at the Koforidua Central Prison.
The carpenter, décor expert and steel bender who also dresses dead bodies for a living said he has been battling stigma since his exit from prison five years ago making life difficult for him. This he said is hindering his intention to help other struggling ex-convicts.
The ex-convict told crimecheckghana he became an undertaker following a dream he had about the job which he described as one of the most dangerous. “When I completed Senior High School I decided to work with an experienced undertaker to get his blessings because I had a dreamt about the job.” He said.
Okyere said his fiancée Regina Mawusi, a lady whom he had supported to learn a trade, ditched him for an abroad-based man. Mawusi, he said further accused him falsely of stealing a piece of cloth from a sewing shop where she worked causing his arrest and subsequent conviction.
“I was jailed two years for theft following my girlfriend’s false allegations that I stole a piece of cloth from their shop. They couldn’t tell the value of the piece of cloth I stole. I was however imprisoned though they couldn’t adduce enough evidence.” He indicated.
He continued, “when I came out of prison, I was lucky to work for somebody and a client was impressed so he decided to give me a contract. Later, the client realized I was an ex-convict so he refused to give me the job. With the skills I have, my wish is to get a good job so that I will help other ex-convicts who are also finding it difficult to re-integrate into society because of stigma.”
As a daring undertaker, a job which he said has been doing for the past fifteen years, he recounts chilling encounters with dead bodies that ‘wake up’ whiles he is preparing them for burial. Okyere said due to the nature of the job, he has to be spiritually fortified and through that he sees more than the physical eyes can see and could also speak with the dead. “For one to do a job like that, the person has to prepare spiritually. I don’t go to any fetish for any form of spiritual power for protection. All I do is to take a bath of leaves to cleanse myself and also protect myself from being hunted from the spirits of the dead.” He said.
“It is very common to see dead bodies blink their eyes when I am attending to them. I ask the dead bodies that sit up or stand to go back to sleep because I don’t have any issues with them. I tell them to rather go to their families or anyone they had problems with prior to their death because I have been only contracted to do my job.”
Crime Check Foundation, CCF gave Okyere an amount of Two Thousand One Hundred and Eighty-Six Ghana cedis to enable him start his own business to make his dream of helping other ex-convicts achieved.
The support was made possible through the contribution of two of its donors, US based Maame Serwaa Esiwa and Paul who lives in the UK.
The ex-convict was grateful to CCF and the donors for coming to his aid. “May God bless CCF and the donors who have helped me to start my business. May God restore what they have contributed for me in double-fold.” He said.
Time with the Prisoners and Ex-convicts
Crime Check Foundation has supported many ex-convicts with business capital facilitating their re-integration into society.