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Seeking Hearts In Prison

By: Victor Velez, creative director, Mayo Draftfcb Perú

The Peruvian Cancer Foundation is an institution dedicated to helping children from low-income families suffering from this terrible disease. The Foundation’s work consists of feeding them, giving them a home and, above all, helping them to fight for their lives by paying for their costly medical treatments. Every year the Foundation organizes a public fundraising drive called “Ponle Corazón” (Put Your Heart into It) on the streets of Lima to raise funds to help an ever-increasing number of children.
Sadly, every year there are fewer people willing to help this important cause. The problem is indifference. People on the street increasingly harden their hearts and the children’s terrible situation no longer moves them the way it once did.
We needed to do something different that would reach the Peruvian consciences again, and here’s how our idea came about:
Our problem was that people on the street had hardened hearts, so we decided to seek society’s hardest hearts and try to reach them to serve as an example for others. And where were the hardest hearts of all? In Miguel Castro Castro Prison, the toughest of prisons, holding 2485 highly dangerous prisoners accused of terrorism, homicide, kidnapping, drug trafficking, armed robbery and other serious crimes.
There we met with the “taytas,” the inmate leaders of their respective cell blocks. We showed a video in which children with cancer asked the inmates for help, and we gave the inmates five days to hold a fundraising drive within the prison, seeking caring hearts among the 2485 inmates. To our surprise, they unanimously accepted our proposal.
Five days later, the results were amazing. 100% of the prison population helped, not only by donating money, but also by writing letters of hope, making toys, composing songs and writing plays for the children. Today, the video showing the results of this idea continues to touch the conscience of Peruvians. It has become a moving example of giving hearts in the most unexpected of places.