This whole week we have had to be out the door by 6am and back really late, so its been some long days. This prison old 1800 men and is over capacity like the large majority of prisons are here in Brazil. The state of Minas Gerais, where we are now, has the second largest population of prisoners. At this prison, after getting through security a guard with a large angry dog led us to the center patio where we set up.
We were surrounded by cells full of men al shouting and calling for attention. It was loud and crazy due to the cement walls and horrible autistics. Then they brought in the prisoners, group by group, 500 in total. We gave out a bunch of candy which always helps the guys kind of warm up to us and let their guard down. It is nearly winter here, so the temperature in the early morning is quite cold and these guys were freezing in their cells and glad to come into the sun.
It was a mixed audience of young, old, long and short sentences and men of all faiths and background. Music and laughter are international languages and they touch the hearts of all men. Once we get them laughing and enjoying a magic routine, we then have a platform to share deeper things with them. By brother does an act with a birimabu, a brazilian instrument used in the martial art of Capoeira. He teaches how we each have our own rhythm and to be an individual , not go with the crowd. In the dance we use fire torches and he spins a fire rod. ITs really awesome! Afterward we bring up a number of men to “play” Capoeira with us and it is a time when everyone has fun, and the whole crowd claps and gets into it.
After we finished we spent time talking with small groups and listening to their stories. One young man told me he was two years into an eight year sentence. HE said he was innocent and set up by a gang. He was so grateful for what we taught about forgiveness. Another man had 20 years to go and was hoping to get transferred to a prison closer to his four kids. Story after story breaks your heart. The tragedy of life. The workers, guards and directer were very impressed and grateful. They gave us a lot of cool gifts that the prisoners had made.