On the first day of “Second chance” project participants from Peru, South Africa, Vietnam and Lithuania introduced each other by telling their roles in the organizations they are working in and some personal details. Played some team building and energizing games to encourage collaboration for meeting goals of the last training course.
After the presentation of planned activities, participants worked in teams and talked about similarities as well as differences in the current youth crime and integration problems in countries they came from.
Visiting San Jose rehabilitation center
On the same day, youth workers visited Rehabilitation Center “San José”, where they met people (among them – also ex-convicts), who are undergoing the process of recovery from various addictions. Psychotherapeutic treatment combined with animal therapy, learning, communication, prayers, dancing, and singing is the main activities performed to form new habits. Participants were inspired by the kind, welcoming energy, commitment, and spirit of change they saw. Also, time spent there allowed to learn about challenges the Rehabilitation Center “San José” is facing that is preventing from meeting organizational objectives.
On January 10, 2020 we made our visit to the “San José” Rehabilitation Center, where we were able to share with those who are in charge of this organization; also with those who are undergoing the due treatment to be able to recover their health, their emotional stability and therefore their life.
We have observed and analyzed, through the visit, the space and its members. We remain attentive to take into account every detail and to be able to find alternative ways to the existing ones so that this project transcends and is sustainable over time. At the end of our visit and after having taken notes on the current situation of the project, a diagnosis could be made that allows us to know with certainty what are the greatest challenges for this organization to meet its objectives in the short, medium and long term and continue being of help not only for the community of José Gálvez, but also for the entire country, since many of the members who are doing the treatment come from different places
In the training carried out after our visit, we had to create working groups to gather information, analyze what each one had observed and contribute ideas. We started with general proposals and then we focused on what was a priority for the organization’s authorities, such as: Infrastructure problems, desire of the members to acquire new skills and financial problems to maintain and achieve project growth.
Our group proposed the idea of creating a learning club between members, called “Friend 2 friend club”, where if a member had a developed ability and could execute well, teach classes to another colleague who is encouraged to want to learn that skill Specifically, it would not only be aimed at colleagues, it would also seek to recruit professional volunteers from the areas that the members demand the most so that they can access classes and obtain all the possible knowledge. All this would be carried out through social networks and the website, generating quality content that captures attention.
Then it was proposed to make an improvement to the web page, since it was not updated and at a visual level, it was not attractive for the user. It was also possible to contribute with the idea of being able to make content more frequently, be it informative or day-to-day (photos, videos and various audiovisual material), so that they can increase their visibility and receive greater support and attention from the media, government and other entities/organizations.
One idea comes from a model proposed by one of the members of the group and that was very helpful, the 3H (Strong heart, good hands and open head) model, which allows authorities and members to understand each other during treatment and that it can be successful for everyone. Thus, it is sought to promote the model through a slogan (so that it can be easily remembered): “A second chance for a single life” and “You are not alone.”
The next idea is to be able to plan and promote activities that make it possible to increase the visibility of the problem and point out that there are solutions to improve the quality of life of people undergoing treatment. A member could be prepared to give talks and share their experience with other organizations and entities in order to generate attention and seek support to improve the current state of the rehabilitation center. Likewise, the desires for improvement (labor and social reintegration) of each member can be exposed.
Finally, we were able to recognize a very big problem and we wanted to propose the idea of creating a business (e-commerce or physical) in order to sustain the project by generating income.
This idea was born because many people want to find a job but there is also the desire to create their own business that allows the exponential growth of those involved, since many times having their own project they can learn to move on from a project to a business and make it profitable. Some examples can be: Crafts, restaurant for the community, musical cast or choir, app development, etc). You can start with an idea and then go diversifying and increasing the projects, so that each member can find the path that motivates them more, all this also supported by volunteer professionals who attend and can provide some consultancies that allow better management of the projects.
With the proposed ideas, we seek that the visited organization can take projects inspired by these into action and achieve greater growth for the good of the members, the community and the country.
Creating strategies to help San Jose rehabilitation center
Working in teams allows to systematize different observations and refine thoughts on how to help a this particular organization. All the participants agreed education reduces crimes and addictions, therefore, to create a learning club among “San Jose” rehabilitation center members was suggested. This club would be called “Friend 2 friend club”, where a member with particular skill would teach others to perform it well. The need of learning English and spreading awareness were also noticed. As a result, small sports activities and tournaments, crafting fairs, and participation in social projects were suggested (that would also could help reintegrate into society after the treatment faster). Guidelines on how to organize such activities was prepared by participants and handed to the Center’s staff.
Visiting La Nueva Semilla
Participants were invited to attend the beautiful, artistic graduation event organized by the “La Nueva Semilla” community. That was held in one of the most dangerous & poorest districts in Lima, Villa María Del Triunfo. 35 young people graduated from the training of the project “Capacitación de Talleres de Formación Artística y Liderazgo” (arts and leadership training). This organisation strongly believes various artistic, cultural and social activities play an important role in keeping youth from getting into crimes and addictions, as well as helps them to integrate into society easier. Consequently, projects related to mentioned topics are being implemented continuously and during 20 years of work helped over 15 000 young people in Lima.
Cultural night was spent celebrating diversity of the world. One of the best ways to get acquainted with your teammates is by getting to know the countries and cultures they came from. The evening was full of short quiz-games, laughter, dances, tastes of traditional sweets and drinks. Some of the participants dressed up with traditional clothes, played music and sang, danced traditional dances and showed presentations with the most interesting facts about their countries.
Visiting Establecimiento Penitenciario Virgen de Fátima Prison
Establecimiento Penitenciario Virgen de Fátima was the first (female) prison participants visited. Participants were welcomed by the director of the prison, who accompanied them along the whole visit and told about daily activities and conditions of offenders. Youth workers had a chance to communicate with convicted women as well as to see workshops of crafting, hairdressing, their lunch, meeting and sleeping places.
After the visit to Virgen de Fátima prison in Chorrillos, “Second Chance” team brainstormed and made the proposals below.
The main axis of the proposals for the Chorrillos women’s prison was to give these women the tools and/or opportunities aimed to better adaptation in the society afterwards (taking into account the issues that women commonly face in Peru due to gender inequality, employment, sexual and reproductive health, etc.).
As a first point, it seems important to create and renew partnerships with educational or work institutions or with different actors of civil society that focus on the development of women.
In addition, it would be useful if the current prisoners of the Virgen de Fátima prison had the opportunity to get closer to the proposals and tools that provide gender equality through various personal care workshops to prevent urinary infections. The workshops on how to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, family planning and contraceptive methods should be lead.
Thirdly, work and entrepreneurship workshops would be encouraged to bring in some of a feminist perspective and diversify the jobs carried out in prison, such as implement CV writing workshops, computer and office tools’ use classes, handicrafts and painting workshops, teach about the bills and documentation, etc.
Likewise, create a home/shelter so that the women would have a place where they can spend the night once they are released, preventing them from spending the night on the streets and reducing the risk that they may be harassed or raped. This shelter should provide them with a room, food and home for a few days. This shelter would receive a minimum fee from the time the women were in prison, creating a house-brotherhood.
Finally, to combat the xenophobia of the prison, a cultural night could be implemented where each foreign prisoner shows something traditional from their country with the help of the INPE administration.
Visiting Ancon II Prison
Ancon II Prison – the second (this time, male) prison visited by the “Second Chance” team. Two programs (DeVida and CREO) are being implemented to help offenders to adapt and form different perspectives on their lives in Ancon II Prison. Positivity, hope and opportunities are the key words in both programs. Participants of the training course saw daily routines, communicated and had a chance to attend dance performances of offenders. The convicts appeared to very talented, and at the same time, extremely happy that they could demonstrate that to a number of foreign visitors. It was upsetting to see so many young people behind the bars, however the education process of learning new skills and progress they are making there seem promising
As a scheduled visit was the entrance to the Ancón II prison, where we were received by its principal and its deputy director, who received us in the best possible way.
In this place it was explained to us that they divided the more than 1800 prisoners into 4 modules, depending on the time they have been in the prison, the level of danger they possess and whether they are foreigners or not.
In addition to them, they have different workshops where inmates can develop all their possible skills and thus develop according to the potential they have. Among these workshops there are the following: carpentry and carving, computing, electrical, cabinetmaking, etc. There are even artistic workshops, such as drawing, painting and dancing.
After making a long journey and being able to communicate with the inmates, we left with a certain melancholy since many of the stories were very touching and, consequently, it felt the conviction was often unjust.
A few days later, in a group made up of people from different countries, we examined the main problems that we could observe and perceive in this penitentiary institution, as well as, we offered different options for solutions to be implemented.
The first problem that we could identify was the lack of human resources such as: doctors, psychologists and social workers; for which we proposed to offer positions with extra benefits: transportation/transfer to and from the prison, as well as housing if there were long working hours; professional practices for these positions for professionals currently working within the prison, obtaining the best in the indicated positions.
Then, we were able to determine a failed reintegration into society after serving his sentence, the effect of which we could reduce by working with NGOs so that they are provided with different skills to face the new pace of life that they would lead, accompanied by different awareness campaigns so that voluntarily enter the programs where the teaching of the aforementioned skills would be taught; in addition, of an advice in the works in which they could develop.
A great little help that can be given to them is doing work for small private companies, in addition to the souvenirs they make for local markets, since with this type of clusters they could increase their productivity and profitability, as well as a better reputation.
Finally, we reach a sensitive point, which is the attitudes of the society towards the ex-prisoners. Acceptance of inmates who leave the jails after finishing their sentence is low, and a great majority are stigmatized by the fact that for them the second opportunities do not exist; That is why we came up with the “SECOND CHANCE DAY” which promises to be a national celebration where all the prisons around the country hold small festivals with open doors for all those who wish to see the talent within these centers and thus sensitize them positively with this controversial issue.
In conclusion, the visit to this prison was very productive: in addition to finding the problems that the prisoners dealt with on a daily basis, we were also able to analyze these and agree on certain solution mechanisms that can be implemented in the short, medium and long term.
Visiting Centro Penitenciario Quencoro Prison
Visiting Centro Penitenciario Quencoro, the third prison of the training course, was a different experience compared to Ancon II and Establecimiento Penitenciario Virgen de Fátima. This prison has enormous space and more than 3000 prisoners, who are allowed to walk freely. It seemed like a separate village with their own culture, a lot of various workshops and learning classes. You could meet many people talented in art, handcrafting and woodwork. Participants of the training course were welcomed with a traditional Inca dance and ceremony, as well as official reception. It seemed that accepting a group of visitors from all around the world was a big thing for them, which enlightened their routine.
The following issues were identified & solutions were suggested by the TC participants:
1) Lack of safe clothing for work.
A lack of safe clothing for the inmates was noted in the prison, which is an important point since they work with products such as glue and wood that could cause health problems in the future. The solution presented is to propose the elaboration of your own clothing such as masks or gloves.
2) Language learning.
It was noted in the area of foreigners that some inmates, after being related to the Spanish language for so long, have lost knowledge and have forgotten their native language, so the situation presented would be the exchange of books on literature, science, etc.
3) Lack of basic resources.
There was a lack of beds, pillows and spaces in the bedrooms, for which it was proposed that the inmates themselves manufacture those basic resources they need, through workshops.
4) Big space little used.
There was a large space in the prison that was not used correctly, for which the best distribution of this space was proposed to create sports activities for the inmates.
5) Lack of basic personal care.
It was possible to see untidy people, so it was proposed to do workshops on personal care and on the consequences of not practicing it.
6) Lack of feedback sessions.
It was found that there was no meeting or feedback session where the prisoners could express their most urgent needs and present ideas for improvement for the prison.
7) Lack of daily activities.
It was seen that basically his day is based on educational workshops, however there were not many recreational activities, so it was proposed to create these.
8) They do not export their products.
As we could see, foreigners are the main public, which is why it was proposed to export the products made by the inmates abroad.
Evaluation and reflections
On the last day of the training course, participants shared their feedback about the programme & activities. Each one of them confirmed they had unforgettable social, cultural and learning experiences related to local communities, youth, crimes, addictions. They also mutually agreed that introducing new habits by being involved in various activities might help the convicted ones integrate.
Participants also gathered into session for brainstorming ideas on how wellbeing conditions of visited prisons might be improved. Ideas were based on a few of the main problems participants saw: lack of safety clothing for work, basic wellbeing resources, absence of educational and self-care routines. In the end of this session, reports with observations & suggestions of the “Second Chance” team were issued (to be later presented to the authorities of each prison).