PROJECT DETAILS

Storytelling for Children of Incarcerated Parents

Requirement

Children who have parents in prison may be isolated, stigmatized, and feel lonely. These feelings may lead to other psychological problems. Research shows that mentoring at-risk children and sharing stories with them is a good way to help them (1) understand they are not alone and (2) develop coping strategies that fit their lifestyle.

Children of Imprisoned Parents International (COIPI) designed a storytelling program in which Hamed Farmand, founder and president, tells the story of his childhood when his mother was in prison. This program is designed for children with or without an incarcerated parent. Hamed’s stories come from his book, Missing Mum, which has been translated from Farsi to English by Elaheh Farmand.

In June 2016, Hamed took his storytelling program to the All God’s Children Camp in Keezletown, Virginia.  Partnering with Virginia United Methodist Church, the camp offers children, ages 7 to 12, who have an incarcerated mother or father, a week at camp, participating in activities such as boating, swimming, hiking, archery, music, crafts, Bible study, and conflict resolution.  Each day, children attend a class called Harmony where they can work on self-esteem and conflict resolution. During Harmony, Hamed read excerpts from his book to the children. At the end of his storytelling time, the children had a chance to ask him questions about his childhood and about writing his book. Harmony facilitator, Christopher Lam, said, “For many of our youth, this was the first time they ever heard the author of a book read his/her story.”  Lam said he thought “this brought more meaning to the story.” He also added, “Many of our youth enjoyed your sharing and were very inquisitive. I also felt that a number of the mentees identified with your pain and struggles.”

This experience shows us that Missing Mum can interest children as well as adults from a wide range of cultures and backgrounds. On the last day of camp, Lori W. Smith, Director, took some books for her organization’s second summer camp in Occohannock so that the book would be shared with even more children.  Hamed and his sister, Elaheh, are still working on translating the book to English.  As of July 5th, the date of this report, 20 out of 35 chapters have been translated.

Problem & Solutions

  • Children who have parents in prison may be isolated, stigmatized, and feel lonely. These feelings may lead to other psychological problems. Research shows that mentoring at risk children and sharing stories with them is a good way to help them (1) understand they are not alone and (2) develop coping strategies that fit their lifestyle.

  • Children of Imprisoned Parents International (COIPI) has designed a storytelling program, in which Hamed Farmand, founder and president, will tell the story of his childhood when his mother was in prison. This program is designed for children of incarcerated parents, ages 7 to 12. The stories come from Hamed's book, Missing Mum, which has been translated from Farsi to English by Elaheh Farmand.

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