Our social reintegration project for prisoners in RomaniaAnimals helping people, people helping animals. This is our social reintegration project for prisoners in Romania
The project initiated by Save the Dogs in the Poarta Alba Penitentiary in Romania aims to facilitate social reintegration for both prisoners and animals, supporting each other and alleviating each other’s suffering through empathy. In this unique initiative, inmates actively participate in manual workshops and volunteer activities that involve interacting with animals. Through these educational and care programs, the project seeks to create a positive impact on the lives of the inmates, the animals they engage with, and the broader community.
Recognizing its significance and aligning with its mission, the Italian Buddhist Union has committed to funding this project with a financial contribution of €19,000, sourced from its 8×1000 signatures. This crucial support will enable Save the Dogs to broaden the scope of social reintegration programs and activities.
How the social reintegration project works
The available funds will, in fact, make it possible to continue the inmates’ visits to the Donkey Sanctuary at Save the Dogs’ headquarters in Cernavoda, where they learn how to take care of the equines by carrying out routine duties of cleaning and maintaining stables and pens while the donkeys likewise benefit from the inmates’ ministrations.
The funds will also facilitate the enhancement of the area designated for manual workshops within the prison where the inmates, under the guidance of experienced staff, craft objects for dogs and cats, such as kennels and toys, using recycled materials. Their creations are then donated to the people in the community who are most in need, to the families of inmates during prison visits, to stray animals living in the area, and to the canine residents of the Save the Dogs shelter.
“Our collaboration with the Penitentiary began last spring with the launch of Connected Lives, the program created to benefit animals and vulnerable individuals in the areas where we operate. Thanks to a partnership with the Jane Goodall Institute, we initiated Romania’s first Roots & Shoots project in Poarta Alba involving inmates from the psychiatric wing of the prison. This program serves as a source of inspiration for our work, as we fully share its mission to promote respect and compassion for all, encouraging each individual to take action to make the world a better place,” declares Sara Turetta, the President of Save the Dogs Foundation ETS.
This shared mission is also endorsed and promoted by the Italian Buddhist Union, as emerges from these words spoken by President Filippo Scianna: “Care, social responsibility, and interdependence: this is the philosophy with which the Italian Buddhist Union supports small realities in many Italian territories, thanks to the 8×1000 funds. Every project originates from the vision of men and women, who, with their intellect and through their efforts, strive persistently to make our society more equitable, compassionate, and wise. It is thanks to their commitment that many people can now benefit from services that were previously inaccessible to them. These are non-denominational social projects in favor of plurality and social responsibility, where the Buddhist Union provides concrete help by supporting existing territorial networks. The selection of each project aligns with the fundamental Buddhist concept of interdependence and compassion: in the world in which we live, every sentient being, whether human or animal, is inter-connected; by acting on one of them, we contribute to the well-being of the entire community”.
A second chance
In a context like the one found at the Poarta Alba penitentiary center, which experiences constant overcrowding, like most prisons in Romania, inclusivity initiatives such as this one represent a crucial component in giving inmates a second chance, and fostering their social and labor reintegration, while also counteracting the high rate of violence against animals recorded throughout the country.
“Empathy towards animals thus becomes a disseminator of well-being for all: it is with this awareness that we are continuing to support this project with commitment and dedication. We are well aware that we are working in a territory that has a high rate of violence against animals, and every small step we take to change this situation gives us the motivation to move forward. We want to be the spokespersons promoting a message of hope and confidence in the future, and hope that other penitentiary institutions may open their doors and embrace projects similar to ours,” concludes Sara.