First-person perspectives on the world of work
Photo: René Levita
Skills for youth

From prison to a better life

I was put in prison for stealing vanilla. Now I’m working, I make cinder blocks and I have no reason to go back to jail.

I want to work because there’s no future for me in prison. I never want to steal from other people again.

I’d like to help my friends so that they don’t do what I did. I feel I have a duty to advise them.

Close-up of a hand holding fresh vanilla pods.

What we did was, we stole vanilla. There were two of us. We were caught and thrown in jail.

© Emma Raboanaly

I was in the jail in Antalaha, and there I got training.  I did it, I learned to be a bricklayer and I earned a diploma.

Prisoners at the jail in Antalaha learn to make cinder blocks.

Prisoners at the jail in Antalaha learn to make cinder blocks.

© Emma Raboanaly

In prison we learned to make cinder blocks, how to lay them to make a wall, how to lay foundations, make casings and posts. We built small houses, a small kitchen. We learned a lot of stuff in prison.

What I really want to do is work to earn money and get on with my life.

Sergio RazafindramananaBricklayer

After I finished the training I came back to my village. I tried to apply what I learned and to make cinder blocks.

But because of the coronavirus pandemic, sales have really dropped. Business is bad. The builders aren’t buying anymore. I’ve struggled to survive.

Sergio Razafindramanana

Sergio, his uncle and his grandfather stand next to the cinder blocks made by Sergio.

Here I am with my uncle and my grandfather.

© René Levita

My uncle is a bricklayer, he’s got experience in this field and does what he can to help me get materials.

As soon as the pandemic’s over I’ll go back to making cinder blocks.

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