Prison Health in California
By Nancy Hinds
For the past fourteen years I have been involved with incredible, inspiring women who happen to be incarcerated – many for life. They choose to accept responsibility for their actions but have committed themselves to living within the prison while helping to change the lives of others for good.
One inmate trained seven years ago to be a hospice volunteer and to sit vigils with inmates who are dying so that they are not alone.
Upon hearing of my journey back to Africa for the MMM AIDS Conference in 2004, they wanted to make a difference in the lives of the orphans in Uganda. They ordered plastic bracelets on which they etched the words ‘Arms of Love’. These were sold to other inmates to raise money for the children in Uganda. I asked them what it meant to them to do this. Here is one reply from Mayola, the youngest volunteer who has been nicknamed ‘Little Bit’. She was in her twenties when she became a volunteer. She said:
“What does it mean to me to be able to help infants and children 12,000 miles away? It gives my heart joy to know that as an inmate my efforts will help someone less fortunate. There are no words to express my deepest gratitude. It is a great honor to help educate, feed or medicate an infant or child. Unbeknownst to them, I am an inmate, a woman, a mother; but most of all I am a woman who cares about their well-being.”