Painful memories motivate mission
Every time João Semedo Tavares goes back inside the prison where he spent 10 years of his life, it’s déjà vu. He painfully relives his past – the haunting memories of life on the inside and every misstep on the outside.
But he willingly goes back inside prison walls, again and again, for a purpose that is bigger than himself. Tavares, is the founder of Johnson’s Academy, where he helps inmates learn how to re-enter society while they are still serving time. Now, Johnson’s Academy has a new mission. They have partnered with other organizations, including AbbVie, to launch a program called One Step More to help tackle a problem that plagues people who are incarcerated in prisons around the world – hepatitis C virus infection.
Through peer-to-peer counseling inside prisons, One Step More is educating people in prison on hepatitis C and helping connect them to the medical care available to them. The program helps people in prison prioritize their hepatitis C care and stay in treatment once they are no longer incarcerated.
“I was in prison for 10 years, and today I bring to prisons something I did not have in there,” Tavares says. “That's what motivates me in the day-to-day. Our presence is very important to people inside prisons and we really make a difference in their lives.”