Mira signed her work, “Thank you for being so good friend. Happy Birthday. From Russia with Love.” While it did not come from Russia, I knew what she meant. It came from her…a Russian…and it came from her heart. It was a birthday present for me and she was delighted to share her talents; a hand-drawn owl using only a simple black pen. As we say in Mission, we often get more out of our work than the people we minister too. This drawing and her words are just another example. спасибо (Thank you) Mira!
(Tiago’s note–This is the fourth (and the second for Angela) in a series of refections by women prisoners in Brazil. The women have given their permission for this blog post although their names have been changed.
In this reflection, Angela shares the story of a recent death in the prison and how the women shared the grief in order to help them make sense of it all. Please think about and pray for the deceased woman, the author “Angela,” and the other women in prisons throughout the world. Let’s ask Him to provide them with the sense of togetherness that will help get through their own trials.)
A week ago we said, “Goodbye” to one of our country mates from South Africa. It came as a very big shock to all of us. Two days before, her cellmate had to carry her to Saúde (Health Clinic) because she suffered from asthma and could not breathe. From there, she was transferred to the prison hospital where she passed away.
It was a very sad weekend for all of us. I know that not only for me but for all of us, our thoughts were with our loved ones, thinking that if anything should happen (to us) there are no last goodbyes. We are all so far away from our families.
On the next Tuesday, we all got together with our consulate to pay our last respects to her. It was heartbreaking but the unity of everybody present was overwhelming and the togetherness of all the different cultures were all that some needed.
My thoughts and prayers go out to her parents and family who lost a special person in such horrible circumstances.
God bless you!
(Tiago’s note–This is the third in a series of refections by women prisoners in Brazil. The women have given their permission for this blog post although their names have been changed.
In this reflection, Winona tells a little bit about her experience and what keeps her strong. Please think about and pray for Winona and the other women who write these reflections. Let’s ask God to provide them with the strength needed to finish this painful and lonely Passeio.)
Hello, my name is Winona. I am a middle-aged woman from the Netherlands. I was arrested last year together with my boyfriend. We have been together for almost 3 years now! We were arrested for drug-trafficking, so we are both now in prison. To be here is not easy and can be very hard but I’ll have to keep strong!
I miss my boyfriend a lot, same as my family and his parents! But luckily I’ve got four good friends here from South Africa. Also the letters from my boyfriend keep me strong and the letters from our families too. And of course my faith in God and my prayers helps me to get through this!
From Monday till Friday I work, but its hard work, but it keeps me busy, and every Saturday I look forward to see the missioners and Pastoral Carcerária members (who visit us) to talk with them and this also keeps me strong!
We hope and pray that our sentence will not be that long so that we can go back home soon and see our families again!
But I know God is with us.
(Tiago’s note–This is the second in a series of refections by women prisoners in Brazil. The women have given their permission for this blog post although their names have been changed.
In this reflection, Dawn from Canada, provides us with a short poem. Please think about and pray for Dawn and the other women who write these poems and reflections. Let’s ask Him to provide them with the inner peace and silence they need to stay strong while incarcerated.)
Three Little Birds–A poem by “Dawn” (Title by Bob Marley)
Is it all for a reason?
The human experience is painful
The world is small and beautiful, big and scary
Full of complex organisms and coincidences
time, love, hurt, memories, Thoughts
How to turn ones head off?
(Tiago’s note–After telling the women prisoners I was writing a blog using our stories together, the women asked me if they could contribute. I was so impressed and excited! So, this is the first in what I hope to be a series of reflections by mostly foreign, English-speaking women in the Brazilian prison system.
Couple of editing notes. The women have given their permission for this blog post although their names have been changed. The words are theirs but I will occasionally edit for security and readability.
Please think about and pray for the women who write these reflections. Let’s hope it will help them, and more importantly, someone else, to make better decisions.)
Rethinking Decisions by “Angela” (Title by Tiago)
A person always assumes that when something bad happens in one’s life that nothing can be worse than that…Then one day you make a wrong decision and you end up in a prison. Well, for me, I made that decision over a year ago and now I am in Brazilian prison for trafficking.
I can tell you one thing. Whatever anybody ever tells you, it is not worth it. You are in a place where you have lost all your rights to privacy. They decide when you wake up, eat, shower, etc. You have limited contact with your loved ones and it can be a very long time before you have the opportunity again to hear their voices; especially over the festive season. The emotions for every girl here are very sad because it’s a time for all to be with loved ones…
Luckily for me, I have amazing friends that are always there for me. And a special thanks to the missioners and Pastoral Carcerária members for putting a smile on our faces every Saturday and for the nice hugs.