“It’s all about trust.” Marta, an Argentinian inmate tells me.
“We all make mistakes, big or small, sooner or later. Some of us make big mistakes. And when that happens you lose people’s trust. When I grow the vegetables in my garden and people buy them for their families they are putting their trust in me again. And this helps me to build a new me. What I like about this place is the fact that when a seed falls inadvertently in the soil, it grows as fast as it does in my country. This, even if it is a prison, must be a very fertile place for our wounded souls. We work everyday in the rain, in the sun, in the cold and in the heat, and following the seasons, one after the other, you start to live again. A terrible storm destroyed all our work last week, and I feel desolate, but we’ll start again with new hope.”
Marta is one of the five inmates who grow food in the prison vegetable garden of the Giudecca.
The Giudecca prison has an enlightened prison governor who promotes this kind of initiatives, believing that it is the only way to help prisoners to break the cycle of reoffending. “The garden of wonder” as it is called is one of the projects run by the Cooperative Rio Terà die Pensieri. They work with inmates, producing food, cosmetics, jewelry, bags and t-shirts, providing them with new skills and training for when they are freed from prison.
Later we visited the fine installation “Io lavoro qui – I work here” realized at “Officina delle Zattere” Gallery with materials and machinery brought from the prison’s workshops and the beautiful portraits taken by the excellent venetian colleague Giorgio Bombieri.