We were at the hospital late into the night and had had a performance scheduled at a prison early the next morning. We talked about canceling it since we were all really tired, worn down and would have to try to adjust all our dances and theater acts since David could not participate. But in the end we decided to go ahead with it knowing the Father would meet us with His grace and David said there was no way we were canceling on his account.
This prison is the largest and worse in Uruguay and we did a number of presentations to reach different sections. The only area we could perform at was in the direct burning sun. We had a shade screen but opted to let the prisoners use it so they would not be uncomfortable but enjoy what we were doing for them.
We were supposed to only get an hour with each group but it turned into two hours and the men just sat there when we were done and would not leave. They were hanging on our every word and many were in tears. One man told me that we brought him what he never had in prison, “Alegria” (meaning joy and is the theme of a magic routine we do).
I read a story about a man that was in this prison. His cousin hated him, so he lied to the cops, got false witnesses and accused him of stealing motorcycle parts. In his first month in prison he kept thinking surely someone would find out he was innocent and release him, but after a year it hit him…he was in prison. “The prison is a horror” he wrote, “It stole my youth and there is no justice”. He wrote that he did not think he would survive prison since every few days there were fights and riots and the food is a lost in edible.
It is hard for me to describe to you the horrible injustice that prisoners face especially if someone has lived a comfortable life style and has not really known suffering or dealt with injustice. When we were in the States I called a company to ask if they would consider donating some little air fresheners for these guys to put by there bed and give a little relief to the horrible stench they face. The manager replied in a most condescending tone that he would never help or give something to someone in prison. It kind of took me back, but then again I guess I understand why many have a negative, “they get what they deserve”, attitude towards prisoners. I know that many do deserve punishment and many have done great harm since I have often worked with the victims of crime, but imagine yourself in your weakest moment or in a moment of rage and anger. Anyone of us could find ourselves in a situation where the consequences where more than we could bare.