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05/05/2011

Young in Prison

CIEE Cape Town has a number of volunteer programs available to students in the Arts and Sciences program as well as the Service Learning stream.

The programs are made and tailored to allow students on the study abroad program to not only volunteer, but to also engage and interact with the wider Cape Town community and not just the small microcosm that is represented by the University of Cape Town.

Each program is different from the next, allowing students to choose a program that they want. One of the programs that I tagged along to explore is the Young in Prison program, a volunteer program that is designed to rehabilitate and juvenile offenders.

On this occasion, the group went out to Bonnytown House, a halfway house for boys awaiting trial. There are around a 40 boys in the house and upon arrival, there were cheers ringing around the building when the volunteers pulled up. These boys receive very few visitors, so the volunteers are one of the few connections that they have with the outside world.

The volunteer group is charged with coming with activities that will entertain the boys. Accordingly, they play some games and hold discussion groups that explore various aspects of the boys’ lives.

The law holds that these boys have committed crimes and that they are in need of desperate emotional and social support – most people would look at them and see current or future criminals. When the camera came out though, all I could see were a couple of boys who wanted to have fun in front of the camera. 

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By Remy Ngamije

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