THE GROUP OF HOPE
The Group of Hope has been underway since 2002 and has survived to challenge all attempts to shut it down. This unique, prisoner-initiated program, begun in Brandvlei Prison, a maximum-security facility near Worcester in the Western Cape, offers the only alternative to joining the notorious prison gang system in South Africa. The group continues to challenge everyone’s perceptions about prisoners. In the end, the program is not just about the people in the Group, for the membership changes as inmates join and some are eventually released back into their communities; it is about the transformative power of hope and love in lives not accustomed to such possibilities.
The men of the Group of Hope have adopted many orphaned and vulnerable children from the surrounding townships. They raise money to help feed, clothe and keep these children in school by making jewelry out of recycled paper. As one group member says, I am not just rolling paper beads, I am rolling opportunities for our orphans. Each and every bead contains them. The children regularly visit their unlikely benefactors and the bond between them has transformed both sets of lives. The Group of Hope inmates also run HIV prevention campaigns within the prison, as well as workshops for troubled youths from the community.
Brothers for All was created in 2012 to enable the Group of Hope members to continue changing their own and other people’s lives when they are released from prison.