Global Service Scholar: Karla Sanchez
Country: Peru

A typical day as an intern at the Yanamilla Prison in Ayacucho, Peru consists of waking up around 6 or 7 a.m. to get ready, and then proceeding to eat breakfast around 7:30 or 7:40 a.m. Once done with breakfast, I leave the house with those also going to the prison site and walk up the street where we catch bus #13, which takes us all the way to the prison. The bus ride to the prison is typically around 45 minutes to an hour long depending on whether there is traffic or not. Once we are almost near the prison we have to pay the person collecting the money 50 centimos (half a sol), and we have to indicate to the driver that we want to “bajar” or get off at the penal, which is what they call the prison.

Once we have arrived at the prison gate, we have to show our authorization letter to one of the guards, who then proceeds to ask for all of our names, and then allows us to enter. We continue walking until we reach the prison entrance door where one of the guards registers us. Once we have been registered outside, we knock on the prison door and one of the guards gives us access to enter the prison. After that there are two guards who register us. One of the guards registers us manually on paper, and the other guard registers us on the computer. The guard who registers us on the computer then asks us for our authorization letter, and identification, and then gives us one metal badge in exchange for our ID’s. Once we have been registered, we get a stamp on our left hands. Then we proceed to place our belongings on the baggage scanning machine and we enter one by one to a closed area to get searched by one of the female officers.

To continue, we then walk through some stairs to get to the other side of the prison where we knock on a door to get access to that side. A guard opens the door and registers us all manually once again. Once the guard is done registering us we receive one more stamp on our left hands. Then, we receive clearance from the guard to have access to the pabellon de mujeres or the pavilion where the female prisoners are at. We walk down a hallway until we reach the female pavilion, and we knock on a door where a female guard then proceeds to let us in and registers us. Once we have been registered we are able to begin our daily activities with the women.

My daily interactions are with prison guards, prison directors, teachers, inmates, the inmates’ children, lawyers, and anyone else who happens to be at the prison. Once I have been granted access to the female pavilion, I interact with the guard or “tecnica”, some of the teachers who are working with the prisoners, and the inmates. Every time I arrive at the female pavilion I go around and make sure I greet all of the prisoners I come in contact with.

My living situation has been great. My host family has done their best to make us all feel at home. We get fed three times a day, and we have our own autonomy as to choose what we want to do throughout our day. There are eight women and two men in our placement, so that means that we have to work together daily to make our days run smoothly. The women share the bottom restroom, while the men share the top restroom. I sleep in the bottom room with my roommate while everyone else sleeps upstairs. Overall, I believe that my living situation has been amazing, and I cannot complain about it.

The responsibilities that I have are pretty much the same responsibilities that I have back home, such as, washing my dish after I eat, washing my clothes once they need to be washed, managing my time to get my work done, making sure I plan out certain activities for the women in the prison, and also coordinating group meetings or “check in’s” (since I am the group leader) so that can we communicate as a team, and talk about our days.

While I am at the prison, my responsibilities are teaching English, math, and exercise classes, as well as teaching the inmates about maintaining healthier lifestyles, and healthy recipes (since the majority of the women have health issues).

At the end of my day, I will say bye to all of the inmates and proceed to check out at all of the places where we checked in. Then we take bus #13 back to the house where we get dropped off at a place called “ex paradero aguanta”. From ex paradero aguanta we walk 15 minutes to the house. Once we get to the house, we eat, and after we are done eating, I will sometimes go to the orphanage and visit the children who are there, or I will stay home, depending on how tired I am. We eat dinner around 6:30 or 7p.m. every night. After we eat dinner, we typically meet as a team and discuss about our days. Once we are done with our team meeting, I take a shower, read my Bible, journal, or talk to my loved ones. Finally, I will set my alarm for the next day and I will go to sleep. This is what a day of service looks like for me.