A group of women wearing yellow shirts gather to craft bags, pouches, wallets, cellular phone covers, pen holders, and key chains using beads.
This is an everyday activity at the Metro Bacolod District Jail-Female Dormitory in Barangay Handumanan, Bacolod City, that houses 187persons deprived of liberty.
Jail Inspector Aubrey Robles, MBDJ-FD warden, said 80 percent of the jail population is facing drugs charges, while others are detained for crimes against properties and persons.
The beadwork has been the livelihood of the PDLs like Milca (not her real name) for the 14 years that she has been in the jail facility for qualified trafficking charges. Her case is still being heard at one of the courts in Bacolod.
The 36-year-old PDL, who came from Zamboanga, learned her skill in doing beadwork at the Zamboanga City Jail, and she shared her knowledge when she was detained at the MBDJ-FD.
Milca said being detained is not a hindrance to helping others as much as she can.
“Although I am behind bars, I want to help by sharing my expertise in beadwork with my fellow inmates, to earn money out of the products we sell, and to be able to support my sick mother in Bulacan,” Milca said.
Her mother is suffering from heart failure and high blood pressure, she said.
Just like Milca, her companion Rica, 46, a PDL who was recently convicted for drugs charges, is also doing beadwork to support her three children.
Rica and her husband, who is also detained at the adjacent MBDJ-Male Dorm Annex for drug charges, have children who are 26, 14, and 11 years old. Their second child, she said, has stopped schooling because of lack of financial and parental support.
Now that Rica is due for transfer to the New Bilibid Prison to serve her sentence, she wantsothermothers to know that, “Even if life beats you so hard, never ever engage in any illegal activity as it is very difficult for your children to live without your presence and it will eventually resultin a broken family.”
Rica said she is holding on to her hope that one day she will be able to return to her children, who are her inspirations, and to have a new life with them.
The products of Rica, Milca, and other inmates will be on saleat the Robinsons Mall in Bacolod up to May 21, Robles said.
The prices of the productsrange from P60 to P500, depending on the size and design.
“So far we are shocked by the overwhelming response of the public. Although these are small items wehave already gained, as of today, about P20,000,” Robles said.
The MBDJ-MDA, Talisay City Jail, Negros Occidental District Jail and Silay City Jail have joined the bazaar being helpthrough the initiative of the Diocese of Bacolod, Commission on Prison Ministry.*SGG
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