“You have infinite value. No matter what took you to this place, you are important to God. You are beautiful! Trust in God, who can get you out of this situation.”
This is the text in one of the letters written by one of the students attending Montes Claros Adventist School in Montes Claros, Minas Gerais, Brazil. It was one of the more than 90 handwritten messages delivered on March 3 to inmates in a local women’s prison.
Portuguese language teacher Eliel Nunes explained that even though he had included the activity in the 6th- to 9th-grade class syllabi, he was impressed by the level of student involvement in the initiative. According to Nunes, students were able to put their feelings into words, as they strove to build up the self-esteem of women in prison.
“Everyone embraced the idea of writing a letter as a tribute to International Women’s Day,” Nunes said. “They valued and loved to make a difference in the lives of these women.”
For Nunes, care for women in prison is a social issue not explored deeply enough. “But that a school went to prison to visit and honor women inmates was something that stirred strong emotion,” he added.
“Students looked at women as women, not as someone who committed a crime. It was exciting to witness their joy in taking part in this important social initiative,” Nunes said. “And [for] us, as school teachers and administrators, it was extremely gratifying to spend a few hours in prison and deliver these letters, bringing love, peace, and hope to each one of the women inmates.”
Montes Claros Adventist School principal Cristina Neiva said that in her opinion, the initiative did a lot to build the women’s image.
“This act certainly promoted the recovery of self-esteem in those women,” Neiva said. “I think we should plan additional initiatives throughout the year as a way of showing that the school can contribute not only inside but outside the classroom.”
Religious education teacher Everton Santos also highlighted the importance of delivering the letters to women who are incarcerated.
“It was one of the noblest gestures I’ve seen,” Santos said. “As I see it, our school has an important role in promoting activities that bring hope to people living in adverse circumstances.”