My good friend Bruce Callow was recently nominated for the prestigious British Foreign Service Innovation Award for his work with youth at the Bluefields Nicaragua Prison. Below is a letter he wrote updating us on his progress in December. ~ David Swann
On December 8th we officially opened the new cells for juveniles and women in Bluefields prison. The conditions in the new cells are similar to a budget youth hostel, they are bright, have proper ventilation and bathroom and shower facilities. UK Ambassador Tom Kennedy and Felix Balladares of the Canadian International Development Agency attended the opening ceremony, along with local officials including the new Mayor of Bluefields.
An additiional outcome of this effort is the way the authorities in Bluefields are now co-operating with each other to find solutions to the problems in Bluefields prison. We have been able to break through a bureacratic impass between the Police, Prison, Judicial and Ministry of the Interior authorities.As a result of this project the prisoners that remain in the police holding cells now have more space than I have every seen in the past three years and the atmosphere is less stressing for them.
This was far more than a government to government project, it was people directly helping people and this solidarity has impressed the Nicaraguans. I met with Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Samuel Santos last Friday and he was very grateful for this effort and thanked us three times at the meeting.
Thank you very much for your contribution to this project and I am happy to share this good news with you before Christmas. Next year we will be doing the same job in the prison in NicaraguaÂ´s second Caribbean city, Puerto Cabezas.