The Center for Global Initiatives collaborated with the Flying Doctors of America in a pioneering and critical project. We were the first non-Bolivian group to be granted access to three Bolivian prisons. Hundreds of children live with their parent(s) in these prisons. We provided care with a focus on general medicine, pediatrics and gynecology. The Center will be embarking on helping these non-criminal yet imprisoned children through a unique and pioneering effort. Basically, we plan (pending funding) to develop and deploy educational and social skills training for educators (there are schools in the prisons!) and guards, as well as parenting skills training and resilience development instruction.
While the manifest mission of this trip focused on physical and dental healthcare, it also illuminated the emotional needs of the youngest inhabitants of the prisons, the children of the inmates, for in Bolivia, if you are an incarcerated parent with no one else to care for your child, your child comes to prison with you.
In non-maximum security prisons, the families of the inmates are allowed to come and go. The children can attend school, and the spouses may leave during the day. As for the children, they not only live in the prison, they also have to go to school there. Those children don't get to leave, not for school, not for visits, not at all. So, the things that you and I would take for granted while going to school, such as simply seeing the world or going to market, or to buy clothes do not occur with these children. They are basically on house-arrest and sequestered in this prison.
Ort: La Paz, Bolivien