On Saturday 6th December 22 young men graduated from the first Message Trust job readiness course that was run in Drakenstien Youth Prison.

The course was a huge success as the young men went through an intensive 36-hour course, which prepared and trained them for employment opportunities once released from prison.

Many young men leave prison with no plan or vision for their lives. Ex-offenders have little hope of finding work and being able to reintegrate successfully back into their communities. Youth employment in South Africa is over 40% in many poor communities. Every young man released from prison faces enormous challenges to find employment and provide for himself and his family.

The Message job readiness program trains and equips young men to be prepared for the challenges they will face once released. Every young man was trained how to ‘pitch’ their vision statements and also taught how to develop practical goals to help them work towards their vision statement. Many of the inmate’s vision statements were inspiring (see some examples below).

One highlight of the course was each young man delivering his life vision to the class, guests and to everyone present on our graduation day. Two young men from the program have already been released from prison and our aftercare team has developed an aftercare plan for  them to reintegrate them back successfully back into society. The Message will continue to monitor the other young men in the course with many due for release early 2015.

Because of the success of this first job readiness course The Message Trust will be running more job readiness courses in 2015 in partnership with Learn to Earn and the Department of Correctional Services.

The Message Trust are also looking forward to the first Message Entrepreneurship Program in Drakenstein Youth Prison, which will be launched in mid February 2015. Some of the young men who completed the job readiness course have applied to do the 6-month intensive course.

We have seen great progress in each of the inmates we have worked with and look forward to continuing to mentor young men in prison so they can have the support in place to fulfil their God give potential both in prison and once released.

Here are some of the vision statements of the young men on the job readiness course:

Inmate from Maccassar: “I want to be a great father to my children and a good husband, I also want to train to become a chef”

Inmate from Nyanga East: “I would like to become an entrepreneur and run my own businesses within my community and create employment for more than 2000 youth”

Inmate from Ebenezer “I want to help the youth in discovering their talents and abilities through developing a youth community development initiative”

Inmate from Guguletu: “I want to open a business that offers support and advice to small businesses in poor communities and gives back to the community”

Inmate from Old Crossroads:“I want to go back to college and study to get a degree in project management”

Inmate from Khayelitsha “I want to be a leader and role model to my family, a man that others can look up to and someone who can be a positive example”

Inmate from Steenburg “I want to become a successful journalist and to study further to become an editor and own my own newspaper””

Inmate from Mitchells Plain “I want to be a family man who is earning an honest living”

At the Message we will be encouraging each young man in their visions and our prayer is to see these young men fulfill their dreams and passions in the years ahead.

If you would like to learn more about supporting our prison work and future job readiness courses please email info@message.org.za