Thanks for all your support to the Hope Academy project in 2011. This year has been an amazing year for the project as we have continued to develop our prison based Academy in Drakenstein and our community based Academy in Soweto. As you are aware our prison based Academy has been our flag ship project and received a lot of attention globally. The Academy uses soccer as a tool to rehabilitate juvenile offenders and lead them out of a life of violence and crime. The reoffending rate in South Africa is 85% for offenders but currently our Academy program has a total of 7% of our inmates in prison presently. This is an amazing statistic. We were recently nominated for the Beyond Sport global awards which awards the best sport for development projects globally. We were a finalist out of 425 entries from 125 different countries, sadly we lost out by 1 vote! However we had delegates come and visit the program and they were blown away by what has happened in the prison and the lives of many of these young men. The Soweto Academy has grown from strength to strength this year as we have continued to build strong foundations for the Hope Academy model to be replicated in other countries in Africa from the beginning of 2013. We believe strongly that we need to be providing long term intervention programs in Africa so that our children can have the best possible chance of success. We have had children grow in amazing ways, some of them excelling in school, others in football and all of them have grown in their characters. 2012 will be an exciting year for all of us as we continue to develop Hope Academy further. Your support has been a massive help to us as we look to continue to walk a road with some of the most vulnerable and marginalized youth in South Africa. Here are just two stories of lives impacted this year from both Drakenstein and Soweto: SIMPHIWE MITIGANE Hope Academy first started running trials to select prisoners for the new Academy in Drakenstein Prison in January 2008. During this time Simphiwe was locked in isolation for violently stabbing two other inmates in the prison. Simphiwe was an active '28' gang member and had a violent history. However, he also had a love for football. Whilst the trials were taking place, Simphiwe begged the wardens to allow him to attend and trial for the Academy. One warden had pity on him and took him to the field. Once the Hope Academy coaches saw his talent they decided to give Simphiwe a chance. The Academy took a risk, shared God's love with him, and invested in his life. One day in the Academy cell he decided to leave the gang and embrace a dramatically different way of life. Simphiwe's life was changed and he has subsequently become a strong role model for other Prisoners. Since being released he has become a motivational speaker for youth in poor communities, sharing his story and the message of hope which changed him forever. THABISO NOKWE Thabiso is 10 years old. He lost his mother in 2008 and has never known his father. Thabiso currently lives with his aunt and four cousins in a small shack in Soweto. No one is employed in his home and the family lives off a social grant from the Government. Despite this, he has made huge progress since joining the Soweto Hope Academy in April 2010. He has received 6 awards for academic progress in school and is also showing great potential on the soccer field. The Academy coaches play a significant role in his life as he has no father or male role model to support him. The Academy is also committed to developing him holistically until he leaves school and working alongside his family. With no regular intervention from positive role models, Thabiso would be in danger of making poor choices later in his life. Through long term intervention and mentoring we are giving Thabiso the best opportunity to be successful in the future. For more stories click on the URL below, we are so thankful to see these young lives changed. We have also uploaded our end of year report for you to look through if you would like more information on the work of Hope Academy this year. Please consider supporting us further in 2012. We still require equipment, one of our biggest needs is a new kit for the prison Academy so consider contributing to that. Our other biggest need is the car we use to drive through to the prison, it takes our coaches over 2 1/2 hours each day we visit the prison and we are using quite an old unreliable car, we know this is a big ask but something one of you may want to consider helping this project with.
We wish you all a great Christmas and New Year and once again thanks for your kind support.
The Hope Academy Team
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