So yep this weekend was really nice. Gabriel took us out on Friday and Saturday which was fun, we got to play with the two dogs including their 7 month old golden retriever Mallu, who is huge and not quite aware of that yet, haha. We also took a side trip to Pindamohangaba, a smallish city about 40 min away where all of Tia Camilia's family lives and where lots of my fam has lived in the past. We also went to a pizzaria (pizza is really different in Brazil and pizzarias here are fancy, a nice dinner to go out to.) and some barzinhos, went sofa shopping, and I even ate Subway which here tries so desperately to be like Subway in the US and falls sadly short, haha. But yea it was a relaxing weekend and returning back to the Centro wasn't particularly welcome, haha. But at least it's been sunnier so that'a a relief. I did a bunch of laundry last night and didn't freeze in the process because it's a bit warmer, and that's always a relief, hehee.
Yesterday we went to the prison hospital. When women enter prison in Brazil and they're pregnant, or if they become pregnant (it happens at times, the Brazilians are allowed to have husbands etc visit sometimes) they are taken in their 8th month to the prison hospital to an area for prganant and new mothers. They give birth there and get to stay with their babies for 6 months, in order to form a bond and to breastfeed them. So we went there with Heidi and talked to women and saw a gajillion adorable babies, including one who was only four days old! the unit was recently taken over by the department of health instead of the prison system, which was really a step in the right direction, as Heidi put it, because now they have actual nurses and doctors--people trained to care about and love their patients, not the guards of the prison system who so often seem to be lacking a soul.... haha. We also visited a man from Cameroon who has been in the hospital for months. He had swallowed the drugs he was taking and had to have a surgery to remove them, and was also so beat up by the police that he can still barely walk. He was sweet though, and speaks about 5 words of Portuguese and that's it. Another Maryknoller who left to go back to the US to start medical school used to go visit him a lot and he was sad because he didn't have people to speak English to, so that's why we went and visited him. It was short since it was time to go and he was a bit distracted because the two nurses who were there (who were really wonderful and chatted a lot with us too, who we were what we were doing etc) were sticking him with an IV sort of thing and his veins weren't cooperating. We told him we had seen the babies and he told us over and over how we just needed to let those women out so they could care for their children. I wish it were that simple. It was heartbreaking though, seeing the mothers--the mãezinhas--I kept thinking about how they must just be counting the days they have with their babies. The bigger babies were so cute but the older they were the sooner you knew they'd get taken away from their moms. However tragic it is, it's much better than it used to be--the time allowed just changed from 4 months to 6 months, and until some years ago the women would have their babies and then be back in the prison without their children the next day. All the time things are getting better, but they were so bad to begin with that it doesn't seem like much.