Johana Bahamón is a renowned Colombian actress who has more than 15 years of experience in the media of the South American country. The woman from Cali caught the attention of fans of Latin American television after her participation in the novel Three Miracles. At that time, the interpreter lived the “best moment of her career” of her. However, her invitation to an event at the El Buen Pastor prison in Bogotá changed her plans.

Bahamón set foot in a prison for the first time in 2012. The initial hours that the actress shared in prison with the inmates were decisive for her future. Upon entering the Buen Pastor detention center in Bogotá, the interpreter asked a woman the reason for her conviction. “She told me that she had killed the husband who was raping her three-year-old son. My son Simón at that time was also three years old. I felt immediate empathy and was grateful that a husband like hers had not touched me. It is that empathy what it has led to and what led me to leave acting and dedicate myself 100% to prisons,” he adds.

That 2012, Bahamón staged La casa de Bernarda Alba represented by 12 inmates and created a group called Teatro Interno. Federico García Lorca’s work was a significant choice, since, deep down, it speaks of oppression and freedom of the spirit. “At that time I thought that theater was the method of transformation. Ten years later, I know that what transformed them was an opportunity,” he says.

A year after organizing La casa de Bernarda Alba, Bahamón launched the Acción Interna foundation, with which it aims to improve the living conditions of people serving a sentence in Colombia.

Through the Internal Action Foundation, Bahamón generated new activities where people serving a sentence share a space for reconciliation with society. “When we did theater we sought to get them out so that there would be that space for reconciliation. We wanted the civilian population to go see them, support them, applaud them,” he explains.

The actress transformed the lives of more than 30,000 people through Internal Action. Following this, the woman from Cali supported the creation of the Interno restaurant in the San Diego women’s prison, located in Cartagena de Indias.

In the historic center of the city on the Colombian Caribbean coast, Bahamón gathered a team of interns and organized the place. In 2018, Time magazine named the space one of the best places in the world.

In addition to creating the Acción Interna foundation and the restaurant in Cartagena de Indias, Bahamón wrote the book Historias deprived of liberty, in which he narrates eight different stories of people who face the reality that exists in a prison. “In that text we told through eight different stories of people who are deprived of liberty. The idea was to sensitize civil society with people who are in prison. We have always wanted to create meeting and reconciliation spaces between the prison population and civil society,” he says.

The dirty walls, the metal bars and, above all, “pain and loneliness” have not prevented Bahamón from taking the “second chances” law to the Colombian Congress. Hand in hand with Katherine Miranda (Colombian congresswoman), the actress obtained the approval of the project in a final debate on November 30, 2021.

“The new statute seeks to generate economic and tax benefits for people who hire post-penalty people. Honestly, from the bottom of my heart, I hope that these incentives are not necessary but that they do so because they are worthwhile people; they are disciplined people and that they have capacities”, he explains.

The prison has not only given Johana Bahamón the alternative of transforming thousands of people through the activities proposed by the foundation. The prison offered the actress the joy of being her mother: Evelyn was born in the El Buen Pastor prison in Bogotá, whom the actress adopted. “My third daughter was born in prison. In Colombian prisons, women can be with their children until they are three years old. After three years, the children leave with a guardian or with family welfare. The guardian is a figure to whom The woman who is deprived of liberty attends for whatever she needs; to take the minor to the doctor at midnight, to take her to a weekend of recreation, etc. “

Evelyn was going to stay with Bahamón until her mother, Claribel, got out of jail. However, when Claribel served her sentence, she decided to share custody of the girl with her benefactor. In itself, Evelyn shares two mothers and continues under the roof of the actress in Bogotá. “I started out as Evelyn’s guardian, and very soon Claribel gave me temporary custody.”

In 2022 Bahamón released his second book, Second Chances. After 10 years in prison, the actress affirms that the prison “liberated” her and that many people who are free present more “mental barriers” than those who are deprived of liberty.

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