A Different Kind Of Christmas
“The lights around the Christmas tree don’t burn as bright
And all around the world it isn’t a silent night
Outside I hear the voices sing the sweetest sounds of caroling
But somehow there’s a sadness in the song
In our hearts we know that something’s wrong
It’s a different kind of Christmas
In a different kind of world
Even though it looks the same
Everything has changed
It’s a different kind of Christmas…”
I love Christmas. It is hands down my favorite time of the year. As I type this, it is the 27th of October, and by the end of this week at least one of my Christmas trees will be up, the mantel will be decorated and Christmas music will be playing all day (at least until the Sweet Hubby gets home. He’s Scroogey.) I love the lights and the decorations and the music, and the sense of wonder and awe at a Savior who was willing to leave Heaven and come to Earth for someone like me. Christmas makes me feel like maybe there’s hope for our world…at least for a little while.
I get to do all of these things. I can decorate my house. Play Christmas music until the SH runs screaming from the room. Dress my dachshund up in his Christmas sweater and boots and watch him glare at me from behind the couch. There will be feasting and fun.
Less than five miles from where I live sits the El Inca women’s prison. Originally designed to hold about 300 women, it is full to bursting with almost 800 inmates. It is a grim place. Most of the women are there because of drugs. They were used as “mules” by some unscrupulous “boyfriend” who promised them the moon, and then disappeared when they got caught.
We’ve all seen the TV shows where prison inmates have clean cells, bedding, food, privileges…in El Inca when they push you through the door and lock it behind you, you don’t even have a toothbrush. You want a bed? Find a way to buy a mattress. Need soap? Find something to trade for it. Hungry? Too bad. You’re going to get one meal a day, if you’re lucky. You spend Christmas in the prison. Your birthday in the prison. Watching through the barred windows as life goes on without you. Anything you need you have a find a way to get. Women do whatever they can to get a little money.
Alma Libre (Free Soul) is a women’s ministry working here in Quito with the women of the prison. The goal is to help women accept responsibility for their actions, and make changes on the inside that will allow them to get a fresh start on life when they are released. Last year for Christmas, Alma Libre was able to give each woman in the prison a gallon bucket filled with soap, shampoo, toothpaste and toothbrush, washcloths, lotion…things that allow the women to keep themselves clean and maintain some of their dignity. This year, they would like to be able to provide each of the women with a set of dishes, a set of silverware, a mug and something pretty such as a bottle of lotion. The total cost for this project is $10/woman. For a gift of $10, you can give a woman in prison a plate and silverware so that she doesn’t have to eat with her hands. A mug that will allow her to have a cup of coffee. Something pretty to remind her that she is loved.
These women are not all from here…in fact many of them come from other countries. They grew up in good homes. They spent Christmas with families who loved them. They listened to carols. Ice-skated under the stars. Drank hot chocolate by a roaring fire. And they remember doing these things. When Christmas comes, they remember their “other life”. The one where they were free.
We cannot shorten their sentence for them. We cannot get them out and bring them home with us to celebrate Christmas. There will be no decorated tree in their cell, no special turkey dinner to enjoy…no presents, no family, no nothing. They will spend Christmas as they have since they arrived–alone. It is our hope that this year maybe they will realize that they are loved–that the baby came for all of us, including them. $10 is all it takes to bring Christmas to one of these women. $10 to let them know that someone, somewhere, cares.
If you would like to help with this outreach, donations may be sent to
Extreme Response International
PO Box 345
Snellville, GA. 30078
Please mark your gift “Alma Libre–Christmas 2013”.