CHILE, vía mariaayuda.cl •
“Entrelazadas” [Spanish for interconnected] is a project that brings together girls, teenagers, elderly women, and women from the Women’s Penitentiary. Once a month, the girls and teenagers from a Maria Ayuda Center visit the older women for group handcraft activities, as well as to chat and get to know their stories. Their crafts are then given to women who have been incarcerated, forming an unerasable bond among them. —
The “Entrelazadas” project connects a group of elderly women from the Roses of Independence Foundation with girls and teenage girls from the Santa Maria de La Florida Residence, and women incarcerated at San Joaquin Penitentiary.
The girls and teenagers visit the old age home once a month where each one has a benefactor, a kind of a godmother.
All the sessions are done as a group and have a particular theme. For example, the theme for February was “colors” and they painted cloth bags with pictures of mandalas which where given to the women at the penitentiary center.
Belén Vaquerizas, an occupational therapist at Santa Maria Residence, commented that all the girls are invited to participate in this experience, but the younger girls do so with greater enthusiasm. “The younger girls become so happy and if their ‘granny’ isn’t there for some reason, because they are visiting their family or for medical reasons, they become very sad and join up with another ‘granny’ just for the day. They look forward to the visits and always say: “I’m going to see my granny.”
This project, which started in 2019, hopes to expand during 2020, and already has planned activities for the first half of the year. They are looking at activities with material and paints, but always thinking about preparing something for the women who are incarcerated.
“Empathizing and connecting with another person’s story, having compassion and understanding about what happens to them, how the grannies feel, all these things helps them to develop social and emotional skills. This is all part of what we have gained from this experience that has had a very positive impact on the girls,” Belen concluded.
Original: Spanish, 23 February. Translation: Sarah-Leah Pimentel, Cape Town, South Africa