terça-feira, 30 de junho de 2009

books, parks, shrines and parties

Hello darlings.

I am alive, just have been busy and without computer access, which brings out the voracious reader in me that I forget about during the school year. haha. Right now reading "Woman on the Edge of Time" by Margy something. I didn't bring it with me cuz I didn't wanna finsh it on the bus cuz that's so anticlimactic, haha, so I dont remember her last name. It's a crazy weird book but it's really interesting. Her writing reminds me a lot of Margaret Atwood, not so much in style as in topics, and I love Margaret Atwood so yay.

I'm not typing this in Blogspot so I dont know what the last night I wrote was. So, here are some recent activities:

This morning we finally got my Visa situation for France figured out thank god. Big relief for me so woot for that. Thanks mom and dad, I know taht was a pain.

Yesterday we went to the Parque Iribapuera. i know I'm spelling it worng. Anyway it's a huge GORGEOUS park in the middle of São Paulo. It had been raining for a few days and yesterday the sun came out and it was warm and the sky was blue and everything was just beautiful. Getting there was an adventure because googlemaps is unreliable, haha. Here they have a thing thattells you ow to get from one point to another on public transportation instead of by car--how cool is that:?? So we get off at the metro stop it told us to and get on the bus it told us to, and I ask the guy who take the money to tell us when to get off and he was like "ummm that's definitely not this bus." Google! How could you fail me!!! So we got off and walked back to the mini terminal and asked around, finding the right bus eventually. As we were getting on a saw a tall white guy with a backpack and a book that said Brésil, aka it was in French. He was with a short little dark girl and they were asking the old man that was doing the taking money job (I'm sure they ahve a name but I don't know it) to tell them when to get off at the museum. Well the park we were going to has musuems (Musuem of contemporary art!! we didnt go though =[ =[ ) and he was pointing to a park in the guidebook, so I took over and explained to the senhor what they wanted, and told them it was all fine. After a bit of stumbling around with different languges (the girl spoke spanish too) we realized he spoke Englsih, so we chatted and got off at the stop and found the somewhat ambiguous bridge to get to the park on the other side and then parted ways. They were jsut here vacationing for 10 days and had been to Rio and were going to Florianópolis today. They liked São Paulo more than Rio apparently, but they just got lucky, being here when the weather was nice hahaha. Anyway the point of the story is on out way back we just kinda hopped on a bus that had a metro symbol, and after about 50 minutes of rush hour highway driving I asked the money-taker guy to tell us when to get off, but then he started asking Olimpia who was closer to him if it mattered which metro station it was. I couldn't hear him and she couldn't understand so a sweet little lady standing between us intervened and told us where to geo and got on the metro with us cuz she was going to the stop after ours anyway. It was just so funny--we helped people ont he way there, others helped us on the way back. Talk about full circle.

On Sunday we went to the national shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida, the patronness of Brasil. There's a story that goes with it--once upon a long time ago some fishermen found a tiny statue of Our Lady while fishing and it had been turned black by the river, so pretty much Spanish speaking latin american hass the Mestizo Guadelupe, and we have a black Aparecida. But yea, the shrine is ridiculously huge, the church was MASSIVE. Really beautiful though, really nice.
On the way back on the bus we missed the final of the confederations cup, aka Brasil vs the US. We stopped for a bit and it was US 2 and Brasil 1, and everyone watching looked like they were going to cry, as Olimpia observed. But the final score, which I only actually learned today, wwas US 2 - Brasil 3, so woot for that. =D

Ummm, Friday we went to JoAnne's project and I watched the drooling babies of teenagers who were formerly streetkids, but are now mostly in relatively stable situations. That was a bit of an adventure, they were all about 10 to 12 months old and weren't ever used to being away from mom, even for an hour, so even just the three I had were quite a handful. They were cute though. =]

I can't really think of anything else that has been happening. Heidi left for the US. =[ I feel like a kid that was pushed out of the house prematurely by her mom. hahaha. But really, Heidi took good care of us, and now we're on our own but hey we're doing well. =D So maybe it wasn't too prematurely. Haha.

Saturday the Casa had our Festa Junina which got rained on so the turnout wasn't fabulous (which is too bad cuz it doubles as a fundraiser by selling the traditional corn-based foods plus hotdogs hehee) but it was still fun.

Um yep. At some point I'll put up more pics but that won't be too soon. Love to all.

terça-feira, 23 de junho de 2009

weekend report and the prison hospital

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.

sábado, 20 de junho de 2009

in São José

so this weekend we're in São José visiting my Tia Camilia, Tio João, and cousins Gabriel and Elisa. Gabriel goes to school in a southern suburb of São Paulo so he picked us up and brought us here which was nice of him.
It's relieving to finally be with some relatives, and to be in a real house with family life etc, and especially to be somewhere I'm familiar with. Happy happy.
Ok that's all for now. =]

quarta-feira, 17 de junho de 2009

e mais ainda!!

Na Parada Gay!! hehe

Chad's girls with us at a waterfall close to Ibiúna, my god they were so cute

At one of the organic farms that also raises animals, yay goats.

Na Parada Gay de novo, com Vanessa, who works with us at ITTC

more pics yay

In the Parque de Luz, outside the Pinacoteca.

Same. The bird really liked that statue thing.

From the window of José's office at sunset.

Skyline again. The church in the middle with the greenish dome is the Cathedral, and the greenness in front of it is Praça da Sé. We walk through it a lot, and it has a huge homeless population. The first buildings to the left of the praça include both Heidi's office and aparment buildings. The street you see stretching off into the distance between the two big buildings is the street that we walk down to get back home (and up to get to the Praça, literally it's a huge big hill). It's about a15-20 minute walk from the Praça, being Ponto Zero da Cidade.

finally could upload a few pics

My bed in our room in the casa. We have no usable dresser or anything, thus the mess.

Olimpia e eu!!

São Paulo skyline, ugly ugly eh? Hehe

terça-feira, 16 de junho de 2009

thoughts on the whole prison thing

K well I'm scanning again (letters from the 17th of April, lord it makes me so sad.) and so I have a tiny bit of time to write.
I'm glad we're doing more at ITTC now. Like today I started writing up the pamphlet taht Olimpia and I are doing for the new prisoners in PFC. We're going to have a meeting about it with Heidi in a little bit, when she gets here at 4. We still have lots of work to do on it but at lest something concrete is done. Plus I said this already but yesterday the prison visit was so much better tht we were DOING something, haha. Cuz before we had a lot of time just sitting there after interviewing the women for the pamphlet. Now we're hurrying trying to do as many letters as possible, we have such a huge pile, and Olimpia spent the morning sending the urgent ones and now I'm working back at the beginning of the pile, aka April. =[
Yesterday a bunch of new girls were interveiwed, doing their prelimiary survey info thingy, and Olimpia was doing translation since they only spoke Spanish. There was one from Spain and was only 18. God. Really hits home seeing these young girls, people YOUNGER than me in a prison in a country totally foreign to them. Dunno. But the work that ITTC does is really great. Something I've learned here is that people in prison are people too. It seems a simple enough statement, btu the reality of it is that unless you have some job which deals with prisons, you put blank faces on prisoners, assuming they're "bad" people, and then just stop thinking about it. But, as I'm sure I've said before, most of these women are more victims than anything else, and if they are, just here in this one little prison in São Paulo then how about all the other millions of people in prison the world over? Granted Brazil is notorious for its unfairness etc in its prison systems, but still it just makes me think about how many poeple are caught up and victimized by systems and organizations that are so much bigger than them.
Anyway haveta go this whole getting a visa to go to France thing is still killing me. Who knows maybe I'll end up at ND next year after all, at this rate France won't let me in. Hah.

segunda-feira, 15 de junho de 2009

long weekend, fabulous weekend

Ok I'm alive, but this is the first time I've had internet since Thursday, man. So this last weekend was super amazingly fun but I have just a bit of time to write so this'll be short. Slash I'm watching Play it again, Sam by Woody Allen so Ima be distracted too.
So Friday we went to Ibiúna, a little town about 2 hours away from here. Chad, another Maryknoller just like Heidi lives there with his wife and his two daughters. Chad works with an organic farming coop and does all sorts of cool things like he has a beehive and fruit trees and chickens etc. His wife, Angel, was in the US for a annual meeting but we stayed there the first night and played with his girls who were just wonderfully sweet, ages 7 and 9. Reminded me of Bia and Tessie so it was nice cuz of that. They live in the country and it reminded me a lot of Sitio where my grandparents used to live up until a few years ago and it was just absolutely beautiful. He took us around to some of the different little farms and we talked to some of the farmers, usually there are just two workers for the farms, cuz they're really little, and cuz it's winter right now so there was mostly just lettuce and peas growing, hehe. The next day we went and stayed with Juliana, the babysitter of the girls, and she was super cool. Friday was the Brasilian Valentine's day so we went out and had some fun, not too much esp because the town is little, 40,000 or so, but it was nice to be able to DO something at night. Hehe. We came back on Saturday and on Sunday went to São Paulo's Parada Gay which was a street party with 3 million people in attendance, and therefore fun fun fun. Lots of music and dancing and costumes etc. Today we went to the prison again and this time we got to do a lot of the stuff ourselves, helping the women with the stuff that ITTC staff usually does, but they were short handed today. Olimpia had to translate for a bunch of new prisoners from Spain. Tomorrow we'll be working a lot, we have a lot to. Ok ahveta go we're late to get back to the Casa. Whoopsies. That was just a quick recap hopefully I'll write more later about specific incidents, dunno. Tchau tchau

terça-feira, 9 de junho de 2009

Random goodies

This weekend was fun. Saturday we went to the Parque de Luz and the Pinacoteca, the museum there. I'm writing this not on the blog but I feel like I already talked about it so I'll quit there. If not, theres not much else to say but they were both really nice and I liked them.
Sunday we went to a little city nearby (but actually OUT of the expansive metropolis so that we actually saw the countryside when we were on the bus, which was intensely reliving after having lived for two weeks in such a concrete jungle) called Embu, where they have an enourmous art fair every weekend. The little center of the city had all sorts of artsy shops and there were booths and tents all over too. We spent the entire afternoon there and definitely didn't see all of it. They had everything, from food to indigenous crafts to recycled nmagazine paper-maché lizards (they were SO cute to hang on the wall and they were only 10 reais aka $5 so I just had to buy one, hehee) to all sorts of jewlrey, to traditional brazilian pottery stuff to furniture to potted plants, etc etc etc. It wasn't junk, most of it anyway, and it was really cool. We saw a few different families speaking English and that's the first time that has happened so that was kinda nice but also they were really tourist-y and made me happy I wasnt one of them hehee.
Yesterday morning the Casa had a house meeting and we were there that morning to give English lessons so we sat in. We began with stretches for about 7-8 minutes, which at first I thought was somewhat silly althought it did feel nice, but then we got to the backrub circle and I wasn't complaining anymore, hehe. During the meeting we talked about basic things that a house full of 25 women would need to talk about--keep the bathrooms cleaner, Friday is the day to sweep and clean your rooms, etc. That was nice because tehy went over some rules, such as the Friday rule, which I didn't know about to begin with. Not that most of the rules apply to us anyway, but still. Then Vitória (maybe I've talked about her before, maybe not. She's in charge of the house, despite teh fact that she's young, barely thirty if that, I would guess. She went to the concert with us the first weekend and is good friends with Heidi) started talking about the Festa Juninha we're going to have in the Casa. It'll be on the 27th, I'll explain more about that later but for you all to know now, there are some saints days in mid-late June that Brazilians make into a big traditional party, and eat lots of corn based foods and dress up as people from the country. Haha. There's a lot more to it than that, but the point is we're going to be doing an international Festa Juninha, and all the women are going to do a little poster thing about a traditional holiday in their country and dress up in traditional clothes. With Olimpia and I representing the US and Mexico, we have 13 different countries living in the house. Wowie. So taht'll be fun. During the meeting Vitória also talked about a movie that we ended up watching last night. It was a documentary about the Lost Boys of Sudan. I forget the name in English... Olimpia says it's "God Grew Tired Of Us." In Portuguese it was Patrias Perdidas. It was really funny and really sad too, I was remembering how when I was in junior high in Lincoln, Nebraska we had some of the Sudanese Lost Boys relocate there, and it was really interesting to finally understand their story. I'm defintiely recommending it to whoever of you have time and/or Netflix.
OK I was writing this while waiting for the slow computer to scan but now it's Olimpia's turn so I'm off. Tchau tchau.

sábado, 6 de junho de 2009

Today we went to the Pinacoteca, an art museum here in São Paulo, it was really cool. Pretty small, as far as museums go, but had a big range of stuff--lots of native Brazilian painters and landscapes etc from around Brazil, weird French sculptures and exhibitions, Brazilian photography, some old old landscapes of Rio from the 1800s which were fascinating, etc etc. It was really nice, and it's in a park, Parque de Luz which was really pretty too--way back when it used to be the botanical garden of the city. I should be able to upload pics pretty soon and I'll see what I can do to put some up here, though really I haven't been taking too too many yet.
I love the metro and bus systems here. Haha Olimpia hates the bus, and I see why usually, it's kinda dirty, sometimes depending on the bus driver it feels quite life-threatening, and no matter what it's always bumpy enough to be uncomfortable. plus it feels way slower than the metro, but the closest stop to us is a good 10-15 minute walk, all uphill, and so in the end the buses are probably usually faster. But yea I think the buses are fun, I've always liked them, both in Brazil and like last year when I was in Albuquerque and took the bus everday. But yep. The metro system here is also really good-- the stations and trains are always large and clean, and we haven't had any problems with it yet. It doesn't really go that many places (there are only 3 lines, though really kinda 2.5 since the third isn't too big) but enough for anywhere we've had to /wanted to go so far.
Anyway yesterday we went to a favela. Like a real one. Jose, a coworker of Heidi's who has been showing us around a lot, grew up in one and took us there. Just getting there was an experience in and of itself, and that was mainly when we felt like we were going to die on the bus, hahaha. We went and toured his old grade school, which was really interesting. Trying to get IN was the hardest part, we had to assure them over and over we didn't have cameras etc, had to tell them were Olimpia and I were from, where we were born, haha all this stuff. And all of this in spite of the fact that the lady at the fron desk REMEBERED him from when he was there 25 years ago! Haha but then finally she took us around and showed us, and that was really interesting. It was a pretty small place but she said they have like 1,700 students, but they also have three periods of schooling. 8-11:30am, 12-3:30pm and like 5-8:30 or something like that. And so people choose which time they attend, so they can fit more kids. It was a K-Jr High school, which in Brazil means like 6 through 14 yrs old I think.
But yea the favela was... unsettling. He took us into the "deep favela"which only had tiny little passages, horribly paved and/or not at all, in which we hadroom to walk single-file, full (again) of dog poop and water (or pee?), houses, if you can call the 2-buildings made of cement blocks houses, towering on either side of us. We went inside one of them to visit some old friends of his. He told us all sorts of stories from when he was a kid and it was a lot more violent and dangerous there and he saw people getting shot right in front of him. He showed us his old house and said standing in his doorway as a 5-yr-old he saw police chase down a 14yrold boy and shoot him twice down the road, and then drag him over and shot him in the head right in front of his house to "finish the job." Yea. He's lucky to have gotten out of there, he says almost all of his childhood friends are dead by now, and he's only 34. He's now a successful lawyer, works with international prisoners' rights, but even his parents still live in the favela. Crazy shit, crazy shit.
Anyway got to run to dinner, we're at Heidi's and if we don't make it back to the Casa in time we'll only get rice and beans cuz the meat will have run out. Hah.

quinta-feira, 4 de junho de 2009

trip to an indigenous community

So I guess I never really explained what I'm doing here. For those of you who don't have a totally clear concept:
Notre Dame's Center for Social Concerns has a program called ISSLP--International Summer Service Learning Program. There are about 50 students participating this summer, the biggest group yet, and they're located al over the globe from Uganda to Honduras, Thailand to Mexico, India to Brazil. We go usually in pairs, and do service work for 8 weeks, the type of work varying greatly, obviously, and all of it is funded by the CSC. Woot for free money. We haveta do some reading and a paper at the end, and during this last spring semester we had a once a week one credit class to prepare for the summer (not that it succeeded at all, but it did, on occasion, bring up some interesting points). So Olimpia and I are here in Brazil working closely with the Maryknollers around here, most of them lay missioners. They do all sorts of things and we're doing little bits of work with each of them, thus the variety of our work.
TODAY we went to visit Sister Carolyn who lives on the outskirts (sort of. it was still pretty far in) of the city. She works a lot with an indigenous tribe, the Guarai who live in a Aldeia which is like a sort of community, a mini-reservation. It was really sad. We just sort of walked around because they know her and so she stopped and chatted a bit with some of them, and it was really eye-opening. There were about 400 people living on a really small hilly plot of land that had been cleared by them of Eucalyptus trees, meaning they now cannot do anything with the land because those trees sucks the nutrients out. They are hunter-gatherers and live on the edge of a national park but can't hunt anything and likely wouldn't find anything anyway. They have a river but it's polluted and whatever they caught from there, as Sister Carolyn said, "would probably kill them." Apparently when people want to abandon animals they take them a lot of the time to the entrance of the aldeia and just drop them there. Because of that there a a gazillion dogs everywhere, most of them mangy and underfed, and walking was trecherous not just because of the rocks and hills but because of the dog poop everywhere. Because of the debateable ownership of the land, and all sorts of political this-and-that, they are not allowed to build permanent buildings on the land, so they all live in plywood favela-like houses. Everyone was dirty, and just really pitiful looking. They don't ask for pity, and are in the process of buying a mach larger piece of land out in the countryside, but it was really depressing to see it all. There are 9 little wash houses that a church organization came in and built, each with a shower, a toilet and a tub to wash clothes. 9. For 400 people. As we were walking there was some Brazilian country playing (sounds somewhat Mexican, not like US country) and Sr. said they recently got electricity there (!!!) so now "the place sounds like everywhere else." We saw a low building made out of logs and with a grass roof that served as their prayer house. In it, and all around, were women smoking these large, funny looking pipes. I have no idea what they were smoking, I couldn't place the smell. Everyone wore old dirty clothes, but just normal street ones, nothing traditional. There was also a nice (relatively speaking) building that had a kitchen in it where a group comes in and they have cooking and sewing lessons. Today they were making soap out of cooking oil, which they get each month as a handout from the government and usually throw away because they have no use for it. Attatched to that building was a long corrugated tin roof covering a paved stretch that was littered with benches. Later Sr. Carolyn told us that each weekend an Evangelical church comes in, brings the ppl from their church, set up the benches and have a service there while the Gaurai just sit there and watch. They're a very laid back and non-confrontational people, so they don't like it but they don't kick them out either. Ridiculous that that church does that. "Trying to convert the pagans. What they don't realize is they have a religion, thousands of years older than theirs, and which in many ways is much more spiritual and deep than theirs." The Guarai have really interesting beliefs, which we only heard a little bit about, but the one I thought the most intruiging was that their traditional music is always only sung by children, because the children are pure, and if someone is to sing and pray to their creator it must be those who are most innocent. Very cool.
Um yea, I guess there's more to say but it's too much and I can't say everything. Oh but after that we went up to a tall hill/low mountain that's sort of on the outside of the city (though it streches behind it too) and got to see Sao Paulo in all it's glory but also we got to witness the smog coud that hangs above it which we live right in the middle of. Ew.

terça-feira, 2 de junho de 2009

prisons etc

So apparently I worried people with my last post, haha, ok I'll be more positive now:

I'm really having a great time here, and am very happy I came. It's awesome that Olimpia and I knew each other before too, because we get along great and can talk about the things going on and sort through things and feelings together. Its also nice that shs from a Latin culture too and so though some things are obviously different and new for her, the general feel of Brasil isn't foreign plus not very much here surprises her. So yay. Oh, and just abit ago she bought her first Havaianas, so now she's a real Brasilian!
So prison was really interesting. Definitely different from the movie-esque image I had in my head. It was kind of a campus, and right in the middle of this big nice park, with lots of grass (not too green because of the winter) and red red dirt. Olimpia made a comment about that, and it's true the dirt here is almost orange, it's a really interesting color. The cuffs of my pants are always wither black or orange, depending on whether I was in the city or not that day haha. But yea so the prison security was really kind of lax, mainly because they trust ITTC who we went with, but we did have to sit on this weird lil stool that took an Xray to make sure we weren't carrying drugs up there haha, and yet other than that they just patted us down and made us walk through a metal detector, so it'd be the easiest thing ever to bring something in your shoe or something. The biggest problems they have there are drugs (apparently there are way more drugs in the prison than outside) and cellphones--people sneak in SIM cards and it's a big deal for some reason. The women offically aren't ever allowed to call out, and can only recieve two calls a year. Crazy. OK btw the prison is called PFC, dunno what that stands for, and it's a smallish women's prison in Sao Paulo (on an American laptop aka no accents) and has 740 women in it, about half of whom are estrangeiras. There are some other South Americans, lots from SouthEast Asia, TONS from Africa, and also quite a few from Europe, a couple from Canada, and of course no Americans, hehe. Mainly the services ITTC provides for them are helping them get ahold of their families--they write letters and then ITTC scans them and emails them and prints out the replies from their families, and sometimes ITTC will call the family directly, or the consulate, if needed. They also help with some sorts of legal things, and such other stuff I don't really understand. Olimpia and I went to the office today to start scanning the letters, and they're super backlogged--we were scanning things that had URGENT written a gajillion times on them that were from march and april. =[ But once we started I realized why it took so long... the scanner and computer are old old, and scanning the often multiplepaged letters and trying to decipher the email address and then attaching the pictures and sending it off takes a LONG time. But it's fine, gives us something to really help out with, you know?
Anyway I'm awful at writing these posts because I get off track, repeat myself and leave things out. So sorry for being so incomprehensible sometimes.
So yes, the prison. We went in there and when they visit, ITTC (btw that's something else I dont know what stands for) always goes to a room inside the school building with bunches of desks etc. I thought it would be an orderly you-come-in-when-she-leaves sort of thing, but almost as soon as we sat down the entire place filled up with these women wearing white teeshirts and never-matching khaki or yellow or orange pants. In that room during those 2 hours they are able to laugh and cry, to feel fear, to feel hope, they write letters to their loved ones back home and read responses, they get their news from their lawyers, from their consulates, they are addressed by name... it was really powerful to witness. If they ever show emotion outside the walls of that room they are considered weak and will regret it, so it's a respite for them. However only those called may enter the room, and it seems to be about 40-50 women each time who are called for some reason or another. Also, ITTC always meets with the new estrangeira prisoners, and while Olimpia and I were there we saw Luciana (aka chefinha aka the under-boss, she's super cool) talking with two European girls who were our age. They literally could not have been older than 24. Almost every single woman in that prison is there because they were caught trafficking drugs, and almost every single foriegn woman was caught in the Sao Paulo airport. It's really a tragedy because these women are not the ones who the government should be going after... whether they were completely informed or not, whether they were willingly ignorant or not, they still are the victims in this situation. So I was looking at these scared little blonde white girls struggling to speak English to Luciana and to understand hers, and heard them say Amsterdam over and over (and sort of giggled about that because how typical) and from the snippets I heard they were just on vacation and brought something to someone here and now they're stuck in a Brazilian prison for who knows how long. I mean my god how much of their life is now put on hold?? I made the comment to Olimpia that they could just as well be me and her... scary stuff. Screw up once and that's it.
As for what we were actually DOING there, we were interviewing some of the English speaking South Africans in order to learn more about day-to-day life there and were asking them what they wished they had known as newly incacerated foreign women within PFC. We're going to make some sort of booklet/pamphlet thing about it, so that'll be really helpful to some people I think. We definitely got some good information and in the booklet we're thinking of putting all what ITTC does in there too so they'll have that info.
OK haveta be off to a meeting now and sorry for the disconjointedlness of all this. Love to all.