PARAGUAY, Ana Maria Mendoza de Acha, President of Fundaprova •
“Lady, give me a job. I don’t want to steal anymore…” This phrase was heard often in the beginning of Mother of Tupãrenda House. They arrived dirty, with sad faces, almost depressed. It is hard to realize that society and the state have pushed them to this situation. In less than a month, seeing them clean, neat, sanitized even their teeth shows that this is the way and the mission.—
A large band of young men that do not have access to decent jobs, obviously because of lack of education – their biggest sin – they have to do something to survive in this totally marginalized state.
Those who are born in these “homes” are condemned – with luck, in time and in good time– by justice, but for sure, first and for life, by society.
I say in good time, because our jails are populated by young men and adults that during these years are abandoned to their luck, a great majority are poor people and thus without defenders.
But from the start, they are condemned by society.
We do not want to see them
Yes, we do not want to see them. They are poor, ragged, they smell bad, and they are bothersome. It is difficult for us to realize that society and the state pushed them into these circumstances. In order to survive emotionally with so many needs, they anesthetize themselves with drugs of all kinds. Obviously, they can only survive the poverty, promiscuity, the violent treatment they receive from their own parents, or even the policeman of the block if they are anesthetized. Therefore in adolescence or sometimes in childhood, they become familiar with crime and that forms a part of their own livelihood.
This is how they arrive at Mother of Tupãrenda House, dirty, with sad faces, some almost depressed. There they receive something unknown to them: the sheltering that translates into transformation. And then, less than a month upon arriving, we see them clean, neat, their teeth are clean, and their countenance is different. That is because the exterior aspect is not a minor thing, it raises self-esteem, it reflects the interior aspect.
The first insertion in society
For several of them, the process does not constitute a re-insertion, but instead a first insertion in society.
Very simply, they have never had a home where to go to eat, a clean table with hot food, and an atmosphere of camaraderie where one is glad to be.
They pass through different stages, distinguished by different colored bracelets that indicate how long they have been there and the abilities that they are acquiring.
Along the way, they learn different trades, such as baking, gardening, tailoring, and in this comprehensive training, they are supported by an excellent team, with Fr. Pedro Kühlcke at the head, who everyone knows from the Itauguá Educational Center (Juvenile Detention Center), and in reality, it is through him that they approach the House. The Director, Mrs. Ana Souerlich, knew how to establish an effective system of firmness and tenderness, and with very good results. The team also has a psychologist with whom they can share once a week; social assistance that is involved with families; the young men’s lawyers with the charism of a guide, and the trades’ instructors of baking, gardening, and tailoring.
In addition to the abilities that they are acquiring, the struggle to control addictions is crucial. In this aspect, we are very grateful to Dr. Manuel Fresco, Director of the Addiction Center, for all the collaboration he selflessly offers.
The lack of education at a crucial moment
If the Constitution and laws contemplate the sentence of jail as a way to punish the individual who broke the law, its primary objective is to correct their mistakes to return them or re-insert them to society. It can never be revenge.
If we analyze the prison problem in detail, we could conclude once again that its origin is the lack of education. An ignorant person does not have the ability to obtain a good job; consequently, he is poor. If he has an emergency, many times he has no other recourse than to steal, and in one of those schemes they can kill…and we all know the final outcome of that.
For this reason, these graduation moments are so exciting for everyone. Young boys with a crucial decision: to take another road other than the one they have known until now and that is very hard for them. For this reason, they deserve to have all our support, respect, and being valued.
They are prepared for the world of work. We accompanied them on the job as well…over a period of several months. Today they no longer beg us for a job, because they know that when they finish the training cycle a work opportunity awaits them; but they must carry out their duties well in order to accomplish it. Not stealing means getting out of the hell of jails.
In any case, they know that Mother of Tupãrenda House is their home, it is like mother’s home…they can always return to visit.
Institutional website: www.fundaprovapy.org
Donations of solidarity (Paypal, Visa, Mastercard, from Europe also bank transfers):
Original: Spanish. 7 October 2018. Translation: Celina M. Garza, San Antonio, TX USA 78212