Malaika is a DTBF graduate from our Teacher-Training in West Memphis, AR. She was a delightful student who kept in touch once she got out and shared her story with us here:

Where do I start? Free. That’s a powerful word right there. How amazing it is to be free. No more chains! The shackles are gone! Although, I was freely capable to physically move around at EACCC, I was bound by my sinful past and desires. I was held down in my mind. The pestilence and nightmares had taken over me. I made some mistakes. I had no way out. I didnt know how to free myself from the demons inside of me. The only option I had was to kill myself. I tried, many times to be exact, but God managed to keep me. I never understood his plans for me. I often questioned his work. No freedom. No purpose. No life. Then I was sent to EACCC where I have had many wonderful experiences. The one that has impacted my life the most is Dance To Be Free. Wow! It was awesome. I have always enjoyed dancing. As a child, I would dance with my cousins in talent shows. We would win first place. I grew up watching the background dancers in videos and wanted to be one of them. I wanted to even be a stripper. It was until DTBF that I realized that dancing was a coping skill for me. It’s where I find solace and peace. I love to dance.

Those ladies taught me to let go. You have to feel the beat and challenge your past. You can’t catch me Devil, because Im cha-cha-ING on your forehead!! I learned to create my own vibe. I cried. I laughed. I was even angry. I can tell you it was easier coming up with angry dance steps. That was a little sense of humor. The purpose was to be able to feel your emotions…dance with them, and then let them go. Be yourself. If somebody goes left, it’s ok for you to go right. It was ok to step on your partner’s toes. Ouch! Free! Free! I cleared my mind during DTBF training. I was so much better. It was a dream come true. The routine that we came up with was the bomb! I have you to know that we continued the legacy even after you left. We recruited more women and they were in love with the program. I have choreographed several dance routines and have taught the others. I was so happy. I was at peace.

Even when I started to get down in spirit, I would get the radio and dance. It gave me serenity. It’s a God given gift that you are doing for women in prison. We need to be free. We have experienced so much hurt, neglect, pain, rejection, and abuse in our lives. We have witnessed some very traumatic events. It affect women more than men. One lesson that Ive learned is that you will never move on with your life if you do not free your mind. Your mind is the Devil’s playground. It will trap you. It will tell you that you are worthless and you have no reason to live. It will tell you that your children hate you. It will tell you that nobody will ever love you. It will tell you that you will never be happy and free. But you can’t let it!! Get up and dance on the Devil’s forehead!! I can’t wait to bring DTBF to my community. I want to reach out to little girls. I want to stop them from going into a Women’s prison like I did. It’s going to be so much fun. Im forever repping DTBF!

Thank you so much for allowing me to get my “groove” back.