“When I was asked to participate in the Sycamore Tree Project: Justice and Peace (STP) to share my experience of being the victim of a crime, I felt that sharing my experience would be beneficial for the course participants. Soon after accepting the invitation to participate, I began to internalize what happened so that I could contribute to the program and I started to get cold feet as I became more aware of what I would be doing in the prison.
One thing that gave me security was that the facilitators assured me while I was participating inside the prison, I would be part of the Prison Fellowship Uruguay team and would be cared for by them. Something that also caught my attention was the fact that I was told that in STP, the victim is also a part of the recovery process towards freedom from the crime. I honestly did not understand what that meant until I was in the prison and speaking with the STP participants.
Before entering the prison, there were many emotions stirring within me. All of my uneasy feelings went away when I got into the prison.
The facilitators instructed me on what to do, and it really helped me feel like I was one of them. Although I did not express it, I felt a great sadness as I entered the prison because of the large youth population. Once the class started, I felt the sadness in my heart disappear. The facilitators created a calm and pleasant atmosphere, and I could see that the participants were paying attention to what was being shared. I did not feel uncomfortable despite never having entered the prison to talk about my life before. As the course proceeded, I became more aware that I was sharing my experience with those who have caused others a similar or greater evil than my own.
As I was sharing what was happening within me during and after such an experience, I felt a sense of freedom from what I experienced. This produced a sense of healing that went beyond the material! It allowed me to put into words how I felt, for the first time in my life.
On an emotional level, I felt that I had connected with many of the prisoners in the course. I know that they are in prison to pay for their crime, but if at least one can take the opportunity to reintegrate into society using the lessons from STP, then being a victim participant is worth it.”
Daiana, Victim [Montevideo, Uruguay]