If we want change for women in prison, then we must work directly with those who live inside. I work to help build their life skills and literacy levels with delivery of books, reading glasses, and a one-day curriculum about life skills.
Earlier this year I was in a prison speaking to a gym full of 300 women and a woman passed a pair of broken reading glasses to the woman next to her. The glasses were duct-taped together. One side of the glasses was snapped off. This one pair of shattered glasses passed from one woman to the next so they could see.
How can we expect women who are marginalized and isolated to increase their level of education, and level of self-esteem, if they can't see the page in a book? When I left the prison that day, I met with a private donor who took action and had 10,000 pairs of reading glasses manufactured specifically without wire for the unPrison Project to bring into prisons.
These glasses sit in our warehouse storage because we couldn’t cover the freight costs to ship them around the country into prisons to coincide with the timing of my speaking engagement in prisons .
We can deliver these glasses into more prisons if we secure more funding. We’ll be able to give new vision for incarcerated women. They’ll also be able to read with their children on visiting day, impacting the future of their children with mother-child bonding and building literacy. Literacy is a passage to freedom outside prison: securing employment, stable housing, expanding curiosity and purpose, and helps with setting goals.
We are also building an outcome survey tool for the women in prison who we serve. The demand for our work is nationwide: 28 prisons in 20 states have requested our one-day life skills curriculum. We coincide the glasses and books delivery with the curriculum day.
This particular project of delivering reading glasses and children's books is a delivery of hope and future possibility for incarcerated women.
Funded by Awesome Without Borders (January 2018)