The Chicago teen jailed in Bali for killing her mother on a tropical family vacation said raising her daughter behind bars is a daily challenge — and her “reason to want to live.”
Heather Mack gave birth to Stella in March as she awaited trial in Bali. In April, Mack and her boyfriend, 21-year-old Tommy Schaefer, were convicted of premeditated murder for killing Sheila von Wiese-Mack last August at a luxury resort and stuffing the 62-year-old’s body into a suitcase.
Mack, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison, said motherhood behind bars has been difficult and rewarding.
“I’ve kind of learned as I’ve gone along,” Mack told “People.” “I thought that having a baby would be like having a puppy. But she is not a puppy. She is everything. She has taught me what love is.”
Mack, who lives in a cell with seven other women, said her fellow inmates have helped the teen mom with her baby while introducing the pair to local traditions.
“They’re all really good about (Stella),” Mack said. “A lot of them are mothers and when I first had Stella they were all trying to get me to use some of their Indonesian traditions with her, like feeding her rice, chicken on the bone and putting onions on her head.”
The other imprisoned women have also taught Mack how to clean and cook — household duties the teen never did while she grew up in an upscale Chicago suburb — since the group is responsible for keeping their cell tidy and making their own meals.
“Indonesians have an obsession with cleaning,” Mack said. “We have a rotation and my day is Tuesday. In Chicago I couldn’t even make cereal. Now I’m learning how to cook all sorts of different types of Thai food.”
Caring for young Stella keeps Mack going, she said. The tot will stay in her mom’s cell until she turns 2.
“She has given me a reason to want to live. She’s given me a purpose each morning when I wake up. When Stella is awake, the days are good — I can’t have a breakdown. But at night when she’s asleep, it gets tough,” Mack said.
But Mack isn’t sure what will happen to Stella after her second birthday. Her boyfriend is serving an 18-year prison sentence and her extended family is back in the U.S.
Mack said she is desperate to find a way to keep Stella close to the prison while she finishes her term.
“I don’t know how I will ever survive without her,” Mack said.
Source : Daily News
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