How a Barmaid Found God While Locked Up Abroad


The sixth season of Locked Up Abroad premiers tonight on National Geographic Channel. The modern day morality play tells the true-to-life stories of persons arrested in foreign countries (usually for smuggling drugs) and thrown in prison.

My favorite episode of the series appeared last season. It featured Brigene Young,  who was a 20-year old South African barmaid when she got caught up in a heroin sting in Mauritius, the island nation roughly 1,250 miles off the southeast coast of the African continent.

The gullible young woman was offered an all-expenses-paid holiday to the tropical island by a guy she met who frequented her bar. All she had to do, he said, was wear a specially-prepared pair of high-heel shoes through airport security.

The barmaid asked what was inside the shoes. Her tempter smilingly told her it was better that she not know.

Brigene knew, in her spirit, something was amiss. But she ignored the still, small voice that told her to rebuke the devil who tempted her to do something she knew was wrong; something she knew could ruin her young life.

The young woman couldn’t resist the lure of a beach vacay on an exotic island. So she put the shoes on and flew to Mauritius.

Brigene made it through airport security in South Africa, much to her relief. But no sooner did she land at Mauritius’s Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport before she was taken into custody by  authorities, who found nearly 1 kg of heroin inside the wedges her shoes.

The authorities offered her a deal: She could help them catch the dealer to whom she was supposed to deliver the illegal drugs or she could face 45 years in jail.

Brigene agreed to cooperate, but the planned sting operation was botched. She ultimately ended up spending seven years behind bars at Mauritius’ maximum security Beau Basson prison.

What was particularly poignant about the young woman’s ordeal is how transformative her prison experience proved to be. After initial fear of being locked in a foreign prison far from family and friends, followed by remorse for making the biggest mistake of her life, she came to repentance.

She started reading the Bible and sharing it with fellow inmates. By the time she was released from prison in 2010, she had become a new creation. Her old ways, which had cost her seven years of her life, had passed away. She had become new.

Brigene’s story of being locked up abroad is a cautionary tale to young people – and older people – who succumb to the temptations of this fallen world. But it also is a true-to-life testament to God’s amazing grace.

This entry was published on April 25, 2012 at 8:00 AM. It’s filed under Crime and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

3 thoughts on “How a Barmaid Found God While Locked Up Abroad

  1. sal salazar on said:

    Brigene Young, your story is very inspiring. Please find me on
    facebook or email me at I once was a drug user redeemed by the blood of Jesus. My name is Sal Salazar. God bless you Brigene Young.

  2. Anonymous on said:

    Brigene Young you are such an inspiration. You are so courageous. Just watched “Banged up Abroad” and I balled my eyes out. Tears of sadness and then tears of joy.

  3. Leroy Human on said:

    This women inspired me so much.
    Sat up till 2:30 watching the documentary.
    Laughed,cried,laughed again and then cried again.

    Can’t believe someone is so strong.
    Come to think of it…I was in Mauritius on holiday
    when she was in prison there? If only we knew.

    But praise the Lord you’re back.

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