PEN Uganda holds monthly literary meetings for members, has created school clubs and organised mentoring seminars in schools. Since 2015, the Centre has run an incredibly impactful project called 'Harnessing Rare Voices'; running creative writing workshops with prisoners. The Centre is also involved in promoting writing in local languages among writers since the government introduced expanded the teaching of local languages in schools, as well as doing public engagement and advocacy around the repeal of criminal defamation.
The Centre is running creative workshops for prisoners in the highest security male and female prisons in the country aiming to support inmates to produce high quality creative work as a form of rehabilitation. Through poetry, theatre and creative writing, a number of inmates have said they have been given 'hope of a second chance' in a country that often disregards its inmates as 'people without value'. Throughout the project, the Centre held meetings with prison authorities, including rehabilitation officers, to discuss key ideas and points of concern emerging from the inmates’ creative work. The idea behind these meetings was to highlight the key issues affecting the inmates’ welfare so that the authorities respond to them. Despite initial scepticism, the Centre has been asked, by the prison authorities, to roll out the workshops to other prisons in the country.
PEN Uganda has produced an anthology of the best work to come out of the workshops, the first of it's kind in the country. The anthology is beautiful, touching and at times unsettling. The poems speak to the pain, loneliness and loss of incarceration, of regret and hope. You can purchase the anthology by contacting PEN Uganda.