Thanks for your support to our work amongst juvenile offenders in South Africa. We continue to be excited about the program and the progress that is being made in the lives of many of the inmates we work with.
This year we made a breakthrough by being able to register the Hope Academy team in a South African Football Association league. I believe this is the first ever prison team in the country to be involved in an external Football Association. This enabled the team to play away games in the community and to also share their stories of change and transformation. The great news is that the team won the league undefeated! We have now been promoted to the promotional league which is very competitive but will be a great platofrm for us to reach outside of the prison and showcase the Hope Academy project.
We are so encouraged by the progress many of our prison graduates are making. Here are a couple of updates on young men who are excelling since being released.
Nkosinathi - Nkosinathi comes from a very poor background in Guguletu township, we were concerned about his welfare when he was released as his mother is an alcoholic and drinks throughout the day. One day he took us to the Shebeen (township bar) where his mother spends most of her time. It was so sad to see a woman so broken and addicted to alcohol. Nkosinathi took us to his house where he is staying with his aunt and to his bedroom where he shares one bed with four cousins. The bed was falling apart and proped up by an old box - he looked at me and said "coach life is better in prison". It was hard for me to give a response. In spite of all of this Nkosinathi was determined to get his life back on track, we spent a good few years with him in prison and preping him for situations like this. Through his determination and perserverance he managed to find employment at a resturant in one of the more affluent suburbs. This was a massive breakthrough as unemployment in the townships can be as high as 85% and then adding a criminal record makes it even harder. We continue to support Nkosinathi and follow him up reguarly.
Simphiwe - Simphiwe was a 28 gang member in prison but turned his life around whilst in the program. Once released he was accepted into a half way home through one of our partners. His community background and environment was terrrible and very dangerous, recently his brother was mugged and shot dead in broad daylight where he lives. Thankfully the opportunity to be out of his environment has given Simphiwe the opportunity to go to college and grow. He recently spoke at an event (see link below) we hosted for an organization in prison. One member of the audience was the MD of Toyota and was so impressed with his story that he invited him to come and share it with all his staff. He also spoke to Simphiwe about offering him a job once he has finished his studies. We are so thankful for what is happening in Simphiwe's life.
Additionally have invited some of our graduates to be involved in our community projects. Last week we had two graduates Unathi and Bongani come and help us coach on a week long soccer camp we ran in Cape Town. These two young men were outstanding and made a big impact on many kids lives. The dream we have is to employ young men like this to help run our community projects in the future. They can become the role models and leaders for the next generation of youth, their stories can make a significant impact on young people's lives.
Over the next month we have a number of events planned for the prison work. Firstly we will be having our end of year graduation for the Hope Academy program. We will also be having a reunion event for all our graduates and plan to climb table mountain. Even though all our graduates live in Cape Town not one of them has climbed the mountain!!
So thanks for your contnued support. We would love you to consider supporting this work further and backing us in this project. We are seeing great breakthroughs but can't continue to do it without your help.
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AIS SA Director