Elder Cualez has spent 11 years serving a drug sentence in a prison in Honduras. In its narrow and overcrowded corridors, he found his calling. Elder is a volunteer TB counsellor for fellow inmates, participating in an innovative partnership that brings together law enforcement authorities, local hospitals, churches and inmates to provide treatment to a vulnerable population that has long been neglected. “I saw the need. My fellow inmates were suffering,” Elder explained.
TB rates in Trujillo Prison are high compared with civilian population in nearby towns. Full capacity is supposed to be 150 inmates, but currently there are more than 300. There are no cells, just open bunks and a common area. Beds stack three high, and some inmates sleep on mattresses in the narrow corridors. Elder’s days are busy. He is constantly touring the prison, greeting inmates, checking in and making sure they adhere to their treatment. “Life is not easy for any prisoner here,” said Elder. “Especially in the beginning, when you don’t know anybody. The support we get from the TB program is really important.”