The magazine of the therapeutical and educational unit – Unit 8 – at El Acebuche Prison in Almería, Spain [EN|ES]

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Translation with the help from DeepL/tw


Greetings dear readers, I’m David, an inmate in Unit 8, and my job is in the Central Library. In this article I’m going to tell you about it and how it’s my day to day work.

It’s 8:35 in the morning of a working day and I stir my coffee with the plastic stick. Meanwhile, a colleague talks to me about last night’s film and I pay little attention to him, to be honest, I’m one of the large percentage of people who need half an hour to start the day without listening to anyone, a difficult task in these parts. -Let’s go Baldy! My mate Juanico always has to pick me up because I’m entertaining myself with a fly.

There are five of us who work at Central Library, so it’s like when you go in the car with your colleagues to the office where you work. Juan, who is like my boss to me, because he has taught me everything I know about computers, is always complaining about the cold or the heat and arguing with me, because I’m the one who picks it up the most. I love to listen to him in the mornings, we are like a married couple. Carlos walks with that passivity with which Latinos walk, always smiling, he listens to the couple and laughs. Miguel stumbles over the columns, I don’t know what passion this man has for rubbing against the walls. It is a team of which I love being a member, because I feel sheltered and loved, something that is very important here, even if we don’t say so. We need to feel the embrace of those around us. The companionship is what makes everything so much easier, we have our frictions as in all families, but it doesn’t go beyond a transient grumble.

Arriving at the Central Library, we stop first at the teachers’ office. There is the Director of Ceper Retamar, Doña Charo, the Head of Studies Doña Tola and Don Juan who is the Secretary of the Direction. This is where our working day begins. Doña Charo usually has the work schedule for the whole day. This year she has started with the management of the school. We have all been surprised by the transition, I think we had a pleasant surprise. We always have something new to fix or replace. For me it is wonderful to arrive and know that we have the whole morning with work ahead of us, when you realise it is almost one o’clock and it is time to go back. Super Tola always gives us a smile and asks some of us to fix the printer that doesn’t work, it’s an eternal war that she has with it.

Second stop: Teachers’ Lounge. It’s like a market, everyone is going from one side to the other preparing the papers, the material to give their lectures and to go to the classroom and give the opportunity to take advantage of the stay in prison to those who want to take advantage of it.

Doña Olga always appears with her permanent smile, which we can’t see now because of the masks, but her eyes show it to us all the same. Everyone treats us with a love and respect that makes you forget that you are here where we are, how easy it is to share day-to-day life with them. I encourage anyone who wants to verify this to drop by the classroom of their unit one day and you will find people who live their profession with passion and enthusiasm. In a place where we inevitably become a little dehumanised, the joy that our teachers transmit is a breath of fresh air.

We enter our laboratory, the area where we have the room to fix the broken computers of the different classrooms of the units. There reigns the controlled chaos, typical of a workshop. Several open computers, with a thousand pieces scattered around the table, with the sensation that they will never again form part of something that works, occupy a large part of the zero zone of our premises. On the other side of a wooden structure, which, like a Berlin wall, tries to separate the room. This is where the PCs with the database of all the books in the Centre are located. On shelves that form a small labyrinth, hundreds of books of all kinds and languages are stored. They are donated by people and entities from abroad or by fellow inmates that bring them from their families and once they have enjoyed them, they donate them to the prison.

There is always a computer that won’t start, a screen that has stopped working or a mouse that has been eaten by the cat. You have to find the right parts and juggle with them. If a terminal reaches the end of its days, it automatically becomes a donor for the rest. Here we give them a second chance in life, like the one we hope they give us, and we rehabilitate (reinsert) them so that despite everything they have done, they have another chance. We bring out the best in everyone and relocate it according to its potential (I’m talking about the computers in case you got lost). In each classroom of each unit, you can find a fully equipped computer with different programmes for study, something that should make us realise how advantageous it is to have thousands of books at hand. Yes, I say thousands, because in physical format alone there are about 15,000 books of all kinds of genres and languages. I think few people are aware that there are books in English, Russian, Lithuanian or German, to which we should add the “calibre” library which can be accessed on computers and has a wonderful collection in digital format. I would like to encourage you to read for several reasons, the main and fundamental one is that I don’t become unemployed, but also because when you get to read a book and you feel it, it is spectacular, like watching a Netflix series, but recreating all the content in your imagination.

In terms of work, my function is the maintenance and repair of computer equipment and that embraces the most varied aspects of computing, now we are in one of the most rewarding moments in the job, we have been entrusted with several major projects. We are almost finishing the new website for the servers of the units, with much more content, updated and more interactive than ever. One of the things I like the most about my job is that, at the same time as I do my work, I learn and integrate new knowledge that I never thought I would acquire. I’m not Bill Gates, but I already know something about programming. In the drawers of the wardrobe (programs or folders) are all the clothes (data) to do hundreds of things. Wikipedia, Moodles, the different courses that are taught at the Centre, etc. All of that needs to be maintained and updated and that’s what we are there for.

As in all jobs, people move on, they look for a better future and in the case of this company, we are also moving towards a better world (life). In the time it has taken me to write this story, everything has changed and not because I have taken it easy; we have a new colleague in the office, Juanico has progressed to a open regime prison (I miss him) and Carlos is now working in another job. With the teachers, it has been no less, there have been new incorporations and several retirements such as that of Don Juan Carlos, the “big boss”. Everything changes in life, we advance and grow as people, work is what most dignifies us and makes us less imprisoned.

Original Spanish publication