The past couple of months have been encouraging for us as we continue to reach young men in prison, and mentor our graduates who have been released.
The prison program continues to go well and we have had quite a few of our young men released back into society. This includes our longest serving member Edward who had been in Hope Academy for the past four years. It was an emotional time saying goodbye to Edwards from the program, however we were excited for him as he had been given a place at a halfway home that one of the wardens in the prison runs. Additionally alongside this warden we sought permission from the prison for Edward to return to the prison daily to finish his school in the prison school system. Edward would of struggled to get into another educational system once released and this was a big answer to our prayers. We have visited Edward since his release and it is encouraging to see him flourish.
Another encouragment was when we heard that three of our graduates Chris, Bongani and Andile had set up a nonprofit called 'We've Been There'. This is an initiative they came up with by themselves and we were invited to their launch two weeks ago at a school in one of the townships in Cape Town. It was a special moment to see the three of them speak to 120 children and warn them about the dangers of crime, gangs and drugs. This is a result of one of the things we teach the young men in prison, the importance of using their lives and stories so that children in their communities don't make the same mistakes.
As many of our young men have left prison we have started doing trials in the prison and looking at other players to join the team. The prison we are working will become the U21 juvenile centre in the Western Cape, at the moment we are a centre that takes juveniles from 18-25 but this will change. We are registering in the winter league with an external football association which helps bring motivation to the offenders. We are excited about getting in some new players and impacting their lives and offering them hope.
Thanks for all your continued support to the program.
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AIS SA Director