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Prison in far coastal city in southern Brazil – January 20th

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I don’t know if I have yet seen such a forsaken place as this prison and the town that it was beyond. First we could not find it and got lost. Finally we found someone who told us where to go and we had to drive miles down a real bad dirt road. There was no one around and even the guards at the gate had the attitude of absolute hopelessness and despair. We had to ¬†explain again why an American family drove all the way out here and was trying to get in. Once we finally got into the patio, it was all in direct sunlight and burning hot. There was no way the prisoners were going to enjoy watching us sitting in the burning sun so we had to figure out something for shade. They had a big piece of plastic, and we had string and a bunch of poles, so we all worked together and figured out how to rig it up tying it from the cell windows. It was tough because it was a windy day but we figured it out and they were so grateful.

Guards were not allowed to come in because it is just how it works with the gangs here, so it was just us and them. I love doing participation with them, like when we do Capoeira or Magic. It gets everyone involved and engaged. Before I did my Irish style step dance, I shared how people can say so many things about us and we have so many lies in our mind about our future. Like when I had my accident and broke my leg, the doctors told me I would never walk the same, but now I am dancing. Our future is not written in the stars. We decide we we are and who we are going to be. Even if they are going to be in these walls for a long time, they can still choose their attitude and the kind of man they want to be. No matter what happen in our past ,we can have a beautiful future. Some of the men were moved to tears when I shared and they really listened.

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