Love generates love

Rina Zammit McKeon shares her experience of visiting a woman’s prison in Malta.

I form part of a group of four volunteers from the Focolare and we go in pairs every Monday to the women’s prison to bring our love and to teach the inmates some handicrafts, including making postcards. We do this together with an NGO that helps prostitutes and other vulnerable women, both in prison and outside. We do this with the help of social workers and other helpers including other members of the Focolare community in Malta.

Last Monday I helped Anna (not her real name) to make two birthday cards for her daughters who are both adults. These girls haven’t talked to their mother in three years. I wanted to love her practically, with all my heart, by helping her make these beautiful but complicated pop-up cards. They needed so much work that I had prepared some bits at home to facilitate the work. When Anna saw the two samples that I had prepared at home, she was very happy and excited but thought that she would never be able to make birthday cards like these. However, I worked with her until she finished one. She was so happy when she saw the outcome of her work that she was literally trembling with emotion. By then, the time for the lesson had almost ended. She wanted to do the other at all costs even if she had to finish it in her cell. At this point I told her that she could choose one of the two that I had brought with me and I gave it to her.

Anna was so happy that she kissed my head. In the meantime, another inmate (who I shall call Maria) needed a large envelope. I tried to make her happy by making her one but the paper wasn’t big enough and it didn’t look attractive. When Anna saw that Maria needed a large envelope, she immediately promised to give her one that she had in her cell. Maria didn’t believe her but Anna replied, pointing to me, ‘Today this lady made me so happy that I want to make someone else happy too; I promise to Jesus that I will give you this envelope.’