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Rome Reports

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Stories of female inmates who make WYD rosaries

Zuleima is from Venezuela. For more than two years she has been living in this Rehabilitation Center “Cecilia Orillac de Chiari” in Panama. 

Along with 59 other inmates, she participates in this workshop to make rosaries that will be distributed to WYD participants. 

“Being here is feeling like we're not deprived of our freedom.” “I am an Adventist, but I believe in one God. This workshop is a way of distracting us. We are proud because this is going to be a part of a worldwide event.”

Her brother was recently murdered in Venezuela. Zuleima hopes to be able to bring the rest of her family to Panama as soon as she has served her sentence.  

This workshop helps her to feel useful, a perspective her companions also share. For example, Johana says this helps her so she doesn't feel discarded by society. She is eagerly waiting to end her prison sentence and embrace her three children.

“I would say to my children that every little thing we are doing here is from the heart. Each one of us puts the best of ourselves in each rosary. We put so much love and care into each one.”

All the participants of this workshop share the heartbreaking sensation of having failed in parts of their life. However, they encourage and support each other. 

“It's something that helps us to move on, to have hope, a light in the dark.” “Here we support each other to achieve that positive goal and to be good people who can reach out for what we lost.”

“This unites and helps us a lot. There are moments, when we are praying, that we feel the Holy Spirit in our hearts and we cry. We tell each other our experiences. This is important, so others realize that everything here is not bad. If we made a mistake, we have been able to move forward, and see that what happened to us is in the past.”

The Rehabilitation Center where these women are confined also offers them an opportunity to study at the University of Panama. All of them have difficult pasts, but here they are offered opportunities to look to the future with hope.