In Spring 2018, I went on a mission’s trip to Miami, FL, with Praying Pelican Missions. Our team spent two of our days volunteering in a low-income community, where the majority of the residents end up in prison at some point in their life.
We volunteered at an organization working to improve this community. This organization was actually started by members of the community themselves. Before we began working, we were able to hear a little about what has been accomplished so far. Prior to the start of this organization, the school was an F school. It is now a B school.
What this organization does is simple. They make the communities environment colorful and happy. Now, there are colorful playgrounds, painted sidewalks, and a community garden. Before all this painting took place, the community looked very plain. Tan cement walls everywhere. It really had a prison-like atmosphere. Since the children of this community were being raised in a prison-like environment, in a way, they were being prepared for prison.
At first, I didn’t quite understand this concept, it had to be somewhat of an exaggeration… but then I saw it. While we were waiting to start our work, I saw two young boys leaving school with a man, I guess their father. He was yelling at the boys for having to be picked up from school because they had forgotten their back-packs (or something innocent and simple like that). When they got closer to their house, they stopped walking. The man turned to the children, and had them put their hands above their heads. The man had a belt in his hand. He had the children walk with their hands still above their heads into the house.
I and the rest of my team were shocked, and we felt for those boys. Fortunately, this organization is making good progress for this community. This experience was very eye opening on how an environment can shape your behavior.