Unfortunately, gaps in injustice, perversity and inequality in our Colombia are increasing every day.
According to people who work daily with people deprived of liberty, the prison situation is disgusting. In addition to this they have let us know that people who are deprived of freedom have many shortcomings. And so, we are faced with the reality of women prisoners and their children. This group faces a concept of gray life, without light, without hope.
The Luna Foundation
This is how we arrived at the hands of the Luna Foundation, created in 2014. This initiative represents the social and ethical commitment of a couple who felt inspired and moved during a support visit to another foundation to the inmates of the Buen Pastor prison in Bogotá, Colombia. During that visit they had the opportunity to meet the children who are there. They are minors living in prisons held with their mothers.
According to Adriana Rojas, co-founder of the foundation, the name of the LUNA project is inspired by her youngest daughter who has been the engine. The reality is that while Luna has the best conditions in a home surrounded by the love of her family, children in detention centers lack that basic feeling of affection as well as basic physical, sanitary, emotional and social conditions.
The main purpose of the foundation is to provide protection and support to children and teens who are in conditions of neglect, vulnerability, neglect and abandonment on the part of their families, the State and society in general.
What is wanted is to diminish the negative emotional impact that children receive during their first years of life.
The idea of providing support to the child population that is in the detention centers and prisons of the country, to pregnant inmates is essential.
Likewise, support is given to children on the sidewalks of the municipality of La Calera (Cundinamarca).
Solkes had the opportunity to be in contact with this foundation and inquire a little more thoroughly. Adriana Rojas opened the doors for us.
The big problem
As Rojas explained supporting women inmates is important because the child population and the elderly are abandoned by their own families and by the State. Without wanting to replace the obligations of the State (Colombia Mayor Program, Early Childhood, among others), we believe that morally we must assume a more active social role and contribute to raising the level of basic and essential medical care.
Children who are born and grow up in different prisons for different reasons live a world very different from that of any person. The truth is that they have a gap that prevents them from developing. They are excluded from society and they never asked for this punishment. For this reason, this crack in their lives must be minimized from affection. We must strive to include them and provide them with support to strengthen themselves from within.
Ideally, boys and girls can live with their mothers and have a decent place to stay during their first three years of life making their rights prevail.
The Luna Foundation focuses on two fundamental spaces: in women’s detention centers and on the sidewalks of the municipality of La Calera (Cundinamarca).
Undoubtedly, life behind bars is an alternate universe. The team is faced with realities that are not only absurd but also a constant reminder of the social problem we have. Some of them are: a very well equipped hospital without doctors and doctors in a remote region without the basics for a consultation. Municipalities where they do not even have Early Childhood or Senior Adult programs as required by law or a hospital that have been closed for more than three years because of simple negligence.
We must bear in mind that according to the Ministry of Education “initial education occupies an important place in government policies, generating relevant actions that provide attention, offer programs and projects that affect the generation of better living conditions for boys and girls in their first years of life ”.
Likewise, the government makes it clear that it is a right of early childhood, and is part of the integral attention whose objective is to intentionally enhance the integral development of girls and boys from birth to the age of six.
On the other hand, older adult programs refer to increasing the protection of older adults who are homeless.
They are people who do not have a pension or live in extreme poverty.
How they work
Laura Viera A: Why do you work with an interdisciplinary group of professionals?
Adriana Rojas: This interdisciplinarity has allowed social problems to be addressed simultaneously in a single moment, allowing all efforts to be integrated.
Laura Viera A: What do we need as a society to recover / improve?
Adriana Rojas: Education, starting from the smallest and awareness of being.
Laura Viera A: Why do you work with women’s detention centers? Why on the sidewalks of La Calera?
Adriana Rojas: In the detention centers we are currently not working because the “Boys and Girls in Freedom” program is specifically aimed at the children of inmates and they have not allowed to develop it. The will is totally ours, but the penitentiary policies are closed for this type of programs.
In the paths of La Calera we are working because it is where the Foundation was born, it is the municipality where we live, where our daughter Luna is growing and where our hearts have opened.
Each of the programs they offer is developed according to the needs of the places where they go. With this in mind, programs that match the shortcomings of the place are “activated”. In the event that none of the existing programs are adjusted, it is developed according to the population’s deficiencies.
The foundation offers seven programs. These are:
Boys and Girls in Freedom: adaptation of a calm and love-filled environment within the women’s detention centers (Bogotá, Armenia, Ibague and Medellín). A place where children living with their mothers have a decent place to live during their first three years of life, which is the time they are literally held.
My friend is my sponsor: It is a program through which it seeks to link natural or legal persons who want to fully support children who are in conditions not only of extreme poverty but of absolute abandonment and ignorance of their rights. The comprehensive support covers the coverage of your educational plan (from kindergarten, primary school, high school to technical and higher education), food, clothing, health, recreation and housing.
Productive Mother Company: Potentialize the workforce, qualified or not, that is held in detention centers and sidewalks to make it available to manufacturing companies.
Reading Promotion: We want to propose mediation exercises for reading and writing, which allow the generation of dialogues and reflections regarding the feminine condition, allowing the participants to place themselves in frames of reference different from those of their daily lives.
Playful Moon: Theater, reading, recreation, sports, painting and all activities that contribute and help to occupy leisure time. The idea is to offer them not only distraction spaces but also for the development of emotional, social and work skills.
The development of their social skills through motivation and self-regulation allows them to discover new skills that could prepare them for their reintegration into life.
Dollhouse: Offer the children the opportunity to have a place to spend some time in recreation. It also seeks to integrate the members of the impacted area with the implementation of community activities that allow them to socialize, strengthen ties and improve the quality of life.
Alliance: Potentialize the possibility of bringing resources and benefits to the beneficiaries through agreements, grants and joint activities with schools, other foundations, companies, associations, state companies, etc.
Basket: The idea is to increase the achievement of resources via donation of toys, clothes (new or used) and all those elements that donors have at their discretion and disposition.
It is natural that of all the programs they offer, some have more welcome than others. This is the case of the Luna Salud Integral program, it is the most developed because they have a very strong interdisciplinary team and consolidate an excellent medical care scheme. On the other hand, the Luna Recycle program is the least strong at this time because there are no resources and sponsorships to do it.
As long as state policies are so changing and media, programs to rebuild our society will be vital. The truth is that many social programs and people’s awareness are missing.
Laura Viera A: I get the impression that children who are affected by the imprisonment of their mothers do not have support and support from the government … how do you work with this problem?
Adriana Rojas: During the day (7am to 5pm) the children go to the garden that has the ICBF in the prison (next to the administrative part), but when they leave it, at night or on the weekend, they don’t have the same conditions. This means that they do not have the 5 meals and enter a very harsh environment (bad words, drugs, etc). The ICBF does not know the conditions in which children live inside the prison. That is why we created the free boys and girls program to get them out of these conditions, but as I told you, prison policies do not allow it and are closed to this type of program.
Laura Viera A: What changes have you seen with the people you work with?
Adriana Rojas: In the conference just the fact of giving them a hug, attending to them, talking with them (dedicating them all the time they need in each consultation), they leave with another perspective, they feel accompanied and grateful that someone listened to them; All this makes them feel important and valued.
They have seen the children of the kindergardens grow. They are more affectionate and grateful for everything we have given them.
With the eye on the ball
To achieve the mission they have set, they have set very specific and clear objectives.
Short term: Consolidate free medical care in distant populations either by supporting the Military Forces or with the participation of private companies. Continue with the help and support of kindergartens and paths that are currently sponsored. Obtain funding sources with companies, individuals and / or international NGOs, who are interested in making donations in money, kind or volunteering.
In the medium term: Structure a Telemedicine program for remote medical care with specialists via the Internet. Guaranteeing the My Friend Scholarship program is my Godfather. Develop the Luna Recycle program.
Long-term: Establish a comprehensive center for the Welfare of the Elderly. A home for Early Childhood. Ecological self-sustaining farm.
Although all theor bjectives have not been achieved just yet, they have accomplished many things. They have managed to bring specialized free medical care for inmates. They have also given prenatal ultrasound in populations where they had never seen them. Perhaps one of the most important achievements has been the restitution of rights before the competent entities regarding cases of abuse and mistreatment detected in medical and psychological consultations.
We have put a grain of sand in their hearts.
One of the most desired projects is to have a place located in the municipality of La Calera (Cundinamarca) totally suitable to house homeless children where they find healthy conditions of educational, health care, emotional support and preparation for life.
One of the biggest dreams and goals is that in 2024, the LUNA Foundation has achieved all that is relevant so that at the governmental level clear and forceful policies have been established that include children affected by their mothers’ conditions of confinement.
Talking with a woman like Adriana Rojas made it clear that working for other people to see social problems and be willing to contribute to improve situations is very difficult. More than a challenge, it is cumbersome since people believe that giving a coin in the street or at a traffic light is enough. One of the main problems is social opportunism, they victimize themselves and pretend to be in need by taking aid from those who really need it, this demotivated phenomenon to those who want to support.
By obtaining donations, in money or in kind (plastic tiles, cement, sand, paint, floor, etc.), we intend to improve the experience of the inhabitants of the sectors involved.
The Luna Foundation has decided to dedicate all its effort and time to these new families. Serious mistakes may have been made but the cycle of punishment and a life without a future must change. It is a group work to build a decent world.
Therefore it is wanted that the rights of children are those that always prevail so they are in a prison because they do not have to live in conditions of vulnerability even if they are in a prison.
It is true that all people make mistakes, some more serious than others and there will always be consequences. But, it is also true that the mistakes of these women do not have to be a sentence for their children. Children have the right to love and family.