More than she appears

Leila* caught ACT team member Tatiana’s eye every time she saw her in the prison. Read her story of why you should never stop at a first appearance.

Tatiana is part of the North West Prison Project team. Running workshops to help train inmates, to offer them greater opportunities to support themselves, their families and facilitate their reintegration into society, she spends a great deal of time with the female inmates in Kef prison.

Here she tells the story of Leila*.

Whenever I went to prison to follow and support the trainings we run there, I always noticed a very thin lady. She always had her head down, and she never spoke to me.

At the end of last year, this lady received permission to participate in the sewing training.

A few weeks passed and this lady was no longer the same. She was talkative. She made jokes. She started to laugh and smile. She became kind and very dedicated in the training.

One day, she shared her life story. It was a story of suffering, abuse and hardship. When she reached breaking point, she decided to ‘solve’ her problems. It’s because of this decision that she is in prison.

Earlier this month, she was sentenced to life imprisonment.

When I next arrived at the prison, I thought I would find the normal scene of what sentances had been passed out, but it was not so. Her reaction to her own sentence was incredible.

She said that life in prison is better than what she had previously known, because she now had the desire to learn new things, to study. This had never before been possible.

Now she has the chance to do what she’s always wanted.

Through this project she has a new opportunity to live, and experience the love and affection we give her.

* name changed

What an incredible story.

åThe women ACT support through this project are people who have made regrettable mistakes in life for which they are serving their punishment. But ACT believes that they are deserving of respect, and should have a hope for their educations, their self-worth and their dignity.