Peacebuilding en Las Américas – November 2018

Breathing Another Air of Freedom: Testimonies from Salvadoran Prison

by Salomón Medina, AVP El Salvador National Coordinator

As the AVP El Salvador’s Facilitating Team, we had the privilege of entering the Apanteos Prison for the second time with the aim of sharing and getting along with the incarcerated men and contributing to peace and reconciliation in the Preventive and Compliance Center in the Apanteos Prison in our country of El Salvador.

Each activity, exercise, and shared experience helped us to understand much better the personal, family and penitentiary situation of each inmate. This allowed us to gain insights into how to serve them in a much more focused way, in a more conscientious way. This is reflected in the testimonies that we share below:

I learned a way of coexistence distinct from our daily routines that will help me get along with my colleagues and people in society. I learned ways to love my neighbor and care for him and respect myself and others. I liked all the activities that we did from beginning to end because everything is a set of values, aptitudes and activities that when put into practice in life develop a perceptive self-realization.

Despite spending so much time with my fellow inmates, I had not known who they were. Now, I am beginning to get to know them in a different way and appreciate their presence because I learn from them and they learn from me. In this way, this workshop has filled me with energy to move forward and be a better person every day. If I believe in the power that transforms, I can apply all of these techniques and values ​​to have a fuller life  All of this is fantastic. I thank God, the authorities, and the facilitating team for making all this possible! 

I learned to think about my neighbor and myself. I learned to expect something better and try to prevent violence. I liked the exercises and teamwork. I also liked being able to be out of the cell for a couple of hours because I am able to breathe another air of freedom. For me, this workshop has meant a lot. In this short time of just two days, I learned to think differently with the help of Transforming Power. I will practice what I learned from the workshop here in the prison and, with God’s help, I will be a different person who is able to succeed. We need this program.

I learned to respect my neighbor and to think before acting or saying something. I liked the Light and Lively exercises because they help us both physically and mentally. This workshop has taught me things that I would not have learned otherwise. For example, it taught me to keep calm when I am angry. I now know that when there is a problem with another inmate, I can use Transforming Power so we can change bad ideas to good ideas. 

I learned that a minimal gesture or activity can bring great achievements. How good it is to think differently! I want to put what I learned into practice and make a difference and always think positively, with faith moving forward. I liked the respect towards others, which is a good habit and has a better tomorrow. It  has had a great impact on my life. I have already realized that inside me I have talent, successes, and much more. Blessings.