...as many people have been the rainbow smiling on my cloudy days. 

Jane's Story

I’m writing to you from India. I’ve been in prison here for two years eight months, waiting to clear my name as my life is put on hold. I had been living in India for 17 years before my arrest; my daughters were born here, I had a house and a business, and I was happy.

My nightmare began early one Saturday morning in October 2014 with a knock on my front door. My house was overrun by 15 tall and intimidating policemen. My daughters were asleep so they were my main concern, but my concerns soon changed; they were arresting me. The idea was so absurd that I wanted to laugh, but instead it was tears that came, when I realised that they were taking me away and I had to leave my daughters scared and bewildered on the doorstep.

I was put in a lock-up, then judicial custody. I protested my innocence to the remand judge but nothing changed. I was trapped, there was little I could do, except to surrender to the system and hope that justice would be served quickly. I was being optimistic…

So my prison life started. The conditions were not good; it was 30 women to a cell. I was then moved to another prison which was one of the most traumatic and dehumanising times I’ve experienced; caged animals would be treated with more compassion and respect. We were herded around and the sum total of our lives were scattered, trampled underfoot, searched and discarded. My five bags were rapidly downsized to one as I struggled to keep hold of the important things.

After two and half years of being here, the anger and frustration sometimes take over, as I wait on remand. The days turn into weeks, the weeks turn into months, and then there will be another anniversary of my arrest, another birthday or Christmas. And every day, every minute, each second is a moment too long to be separated from my daughters. My legal team do not seem to be in any hurry to conclude my case. But Prisoners Abroad have been amazing, they send Christmas cards, books and newsletters. The magazines they send keep my mind stimulated and allow me to communicate with others in prison by passing them around, discussing them and using them as teaching tools for the English lessons I teach and the Hindi lessons I receive.

With the help of Prisoners Abroad my time in prison has been made much more bearable. I wrote to them and they have sent me books on yoga, meditation and tai chi – I have been teaching the other ladies – finding comfort and friendship somewhere like this is rare I imagine.

The food here is inadequate to keep you alive and well, so the modest but vital amount of money sent to me by Prisoners Abroad has been invaluable. I have been able to buy fresh fruit and vegetables, dried fruit, nuts and seeds so that I can stay healthy and avoid illness. I’ve improvised a make-shift kitchen with my metal plate, steel cup, broken spoon handle and the lid of a tin and have become a regular Nigella Lawson of the prison world.

Being offered a lifeline can change everything. 

Prisoners Abroad translates human rights law into practical life-saving actions by providing prisoners access to vitamins and essential food, emergency medical care, freepost envelopes to keep in touch with home and books and magazines to help sustain mental health.