Johana Bahamón wearing a shirt that reads

PROGRESS ISproviding secondopportunities

Colombian actress, entrepreneur, and founder of the Foundation Acción Interna, Johana Bahamón discusses her work advocating for prisoner rights and creating second opportunities for inmates in her home country.

Photographed in Colombia

A fierce believer in second opportunities, Johana not only works to promote better treatment for Colombian inmates while in prison, but she also works to make their reentry into society smoother and easier once they get out. She aims to break down the barriers between prison life and the civilian population and to remove the stigma surrounding prisoners.

They’re instantly judged, but most of them are just human beings who’ve made mistakes.

We sat down with Johana to talk about her advocacy work and why she decided to take this on.

“Hacer de los problemas oportunidades y convertir éstas en una realidad”

The idea for the Foundation Acción Interna (FAI) started when Johana was asked to judge a beauty contest in a Colombian prison. She was utterly shocked at the reality of the poor living conditions of the inmates.

Knowing the reality of Colombia's prison population led me to work with passion for the dignity of inmates, for generating second opportunities for them and to advance actions of reconciliation and resocialization with civil society.

How do you continue to make progress when things go awry?

I turn the problems into opportunities and turn them into a reality, making everyone in the Foundation work as what we are: a team that’s persistent and committed to second opportunities.

What does success look like to you in your efforts with the FAI?

[Success is measured] in the daily evidence of the positive impact we are achieving, in the creation of opportunities and productive ventures in prisons, on the increasing number of jobs given to ex-prisoners and the significant reduction of recidivism (the tendency of a convicted criminal to reoffend).

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned through your work with the FAI?

Value more and need less.

What's your secret to staying positive?

Laughing at everything, starting by laughing at myself. Laughing is the best power, it heals everything.

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