French fashion designer Thomas Jacob began Project Pietí¡ three years ago, leaving behind exclusive Parisian fashion houses like Chanel for one of the most dangerous jails in Peru.
Working with 35 inmates from San Pedro prison, Jacob has developed a fashion brand that gives the prisoners an opportunity to learn new skills and a sense of purpose.
“I thought it was a good idea to make something very creative and something different,” Jacob told the BBC in a recent interview. A journalist of the European media paid a visit to Jacob and his team of employees at the notorious prison in San Juan de Lurigancho, Lima.
The prison already had 10 sewing machines, of which the inmates use now to create t-shirts, jeans and other apparel that is eventually sold in trendy stores around Lima, as well as the US and Europe.
“Thomas demands very high quality in workmanship which is great because we get to learn new skills,” says one of the inmates interview by BBC. He adds that workers get paid not only based on quantity but according to quality of the finished product as well.
Jacob now considers the employees of Project Pietí¡ as friends, and uses them as his models. Fashion shows have even been held in the jail.
BBC reveals how the lives of inmates have changed for the better since learning workmanship skills, many commenting that now they look towards the future instead of lamenting on the reasons they are in jail.
Listen below to the full audio of BBC’s tour of the prison and the inmates who are proud to be part of Project Pieta, and be sure to visit Project Pieta on Facebook.