Prize for a Social Entrepreneur

Sunday, November 12, 2017
Valdeci Antonio Ferreira is the founder of the Comboni Lay Missionaries (CLM) in Brazil. He is 55 years old and 34 of them have been dedicated to prisoners. After many years as head of the Assistance for the Protection of Prisoners (APACE) he is currently president of the Brazilian Fraternity of Assistance to Prisoners (FBAC). During this past weekend the daily paper Folha de São Paulo awarded him the prize of social entrepreneur for the system of humane incarceration. Our sincerest congratulations to him and his cooperators. May Comboni Always be the great intercessor in this journey towards Resurrection. (Lourdes, CLM Brazil).

Folha de São Paulo

Valdeci Ferreira, of the FBAC, was given an award for the system of humane incarceration.

A volunteer for more than 30 years, Valdeci Ferreira of FBAC was recognized for the system of humane incarceration.

He is the leader of FBAC, a federation connected with APACS (Association for the Protection and Assistance of convicts). His mission is to spread this innovative methodology of resocialization of convicts, which aims at recovering the detainees, protect society, help the victims and promote restorative justice.

Receiving the prize, the entrepreneur said that, 34 years ago when he first visited a prison in Itaúna, MG, he could not have imagined receiving the main award of this evening. Visibly moved he said: “Life did not place rugs on my path for me to walk on, but rather stairs and today this is another stairway we are climbing. I need to share this moment with all those we were recovered by passing through APAC and with those who are still there and are the reason for our work and for what I had to give up in my life.”

One of them came up to the stage in his wheelchair. “Here in front of you is someone who went through APAC. I am a recovered individual and I believed in this man,” said Rinaldo Guimarães. “Valdeci always remembers a quote by St. Augustine: “Hope has two daughters: indignation and courage. Indignation is needed in order not to accept things as they are, and courage, like this man’s, to change things and make a difference,” he concluded.

In recognition of his work, Ferreira was elected as Social Entrepreneur of the Year among 100 candidates in the largest competition in the area of Latin America, organized by the Folha in cooperation with the Schwab Foundation. It is estimated that more than 33 thousand Brazilian convicts have already passed through APACS, units of humanized prisons without arms or armed guards. This alternative system today houses 3,500 prisoners divided in 48 units across Brazil. This method is being tried in 19 other countries.

In 1972 this organization developed 12 elements such as work, the value of the person, legal assistance, family, meritocracy, and the principle of self-help in recuperation. This method has suffered a mere 20% to 28% of recidivism versus the 85% of the common prison system with a cost of only one third of the regular prisons.

Ferreira ran for the grand prize against Bernardo Bonjean, 40, the leader of Avante, an organization offering credit and humanly acceptable terms for micro-businesses not accepted by the banks, and Ronaldo Lemos, 41, of the Institute of Technology and Society (ITS) which developed the application Cambiamos, a tool of direct democracy for the collection of digital signatures in favor of projects of popular empowerment.