Argentine volunteers are trying to bring a little cheer to children living with their mothers in prison by dressing up as superheroes like Batman, Iron Man and Princess Elsa as part of a wider program for vulnerable minors.
During a recent Reuters visit to the Unit 33 women’s prison in Los Hornos on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, some 15 men and women transformed themselves into popular superheroes, as well as some villains, by wearing costumes from movies like “Frozen” and “Maleficent.”
In Argentina, children can stay with their mothers in the women’s prison until the age of four, a tough upbringing for many in a country that has long suffered from overcrowded and harsh prison conditions, according to Human Rights Watch.
“We’re bringing them a little bit of color from the world outside this place,” said Damian Gomez, who was dressed as Batman. Gomez is the organizer of the “Hero Club,” a group that was created to support vulnerable children, including those growing up in prison environments, which researchers say can have a harmful effect.
“Seeing the smiles of the moms alongside them, seeing their child smile, having fun, seeing a princess or a superhero for a minute and saying ‘wow’... that’s what we’re interested in sparking.”
Dalma Luna, a 31-year-old inmate serving over 16 years for aggravated robbery, told Reuters she welcomed the bit of joy it brought for her young daughter Ciela, who she said was “her life.”
“I am a first-time mother, Ciela is my only daughter and I had to have her here in confinement, at the age of 29 I was a mother for the first time. I do the best I can for her, but it’s a tough situation,” she said.
“These are the only moments when you feel happiness and forget the place you are in.”
Gomez said the “heroes” hoped their powers extended into the real world with real impact.
“When I see the smile on the face of a child, whether in a hospital, a home or in a prison, we feel that our mission is accomplished,” he said
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