Crime & Justice

“Baby library” opens in Mexico to help kids of imprisoned mothers

Mexico City, Aug 17 (EFE).- Books, a blackboard, painting supplies, a bin full of plastic balls, a keyboard, a television with movies available and assorted colorful play equipment are included in a new children’s educational center – dubbed a “bebeteca,” playing on the Spanish words for “baby” and “library” – that was opened on Wednesday in the women’s wing of the Chiconautla reinsertion center, a penal facility located in the municipality of Ecatepec, in central Mexico state.

The non-governmental organization Reinserta, which is sponsoring the program with financing from the US tech and e-commerce giant Amazon, created the space where more than 100 kids will continue with their development amid an environment designed to let them become familiar with colors, sensations and learning which, so far, they have not had access to because they’ve lived the first years of their lives with their mothers in the reinsertion center.

“All this is conceived such that it stimulates the early development of the children who, because they’ve been deprived of their freedom, have not experienced it,” Saskia Niño de Rivera, the cofounder of Reinserta, told EFE.

For example, she said that “There are certain colors they’ve never seen because the colors that predominate here are blue, black, beige and white, and the seesaw gives them a sensation similar to some kind of vehicle,” again which most of the youngsters have never had because they’ve never been anywhere outside the reinsertion facility.

Mexico state has 22 children living in prison, the Security Secretary for the state, Rodrigo Sigfrid Martinez-Celis, said at a press conference, but they can only remain in the penal facilities with their mothers from the time they are born until their third birthdays.

In the Chiconautla facility there are three kids, but every day the incarcerated women receive visits from their children living outside the center, and thus the play space enables many of them to spend quality time with their young ones.

“For me, this is very important. I tell my daughter (aged 2 1/2) that this is like school. ‘When you’re out on the street it’s going to be easier for you to get acquainted with it.’ For me, this big opportunity that they’re giving to the babies is perfect,” Maria Gutierrez, one of the inmates, told EFE, asking that a pseudonym be used in identifying her and who has been at the center for seven years, becoming pregnant there.

The little girl was painting on Wednesday and clearly enjoying it and the other aspects of the play space, the opening of which has been anticipated for weeks.

“Every time we open a space like this I’m already thinking about the next one, and seeing what else we can do,” said Saskia, noting that this is the second “bebeteca” they have opened.

All the toys and items in the play space were donated by Amazon customers who signed up with Reinserta to do so.

EFE ia/afs/cpy/bp

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