Tarisai Mchuchu-Ratshidi

Director: Young in Prison South Africa

It was a visit to Pollsmoor prison in 2007, while she was studying law at the University of Cape Town, that sparked 24-year-old Tarisai Mchuchu-Ratshidi's interest in young prisoners. She is now the director of Young in Prison South Africa (YIP), an NGO that does rehabilitation work with juveniles, teaching them life skills through art. "In the last six months of their sentence we do mentorship, preparing them mentally for their release. Some of them have been in there for 10 years and life on the outside has changed.� But the work doesn't stop there. YIP follows up with the former prisoners on the outside, providing them with much-needed support and guidance for six months after their release. The organisation also produces a magazine called Inside Out, which shows the prisoners' artwork. The magazine is used as a tool to educate the public about prison and create awareness about the consequences of committing crimes. It may seem strange to many but Mchuchu-Ratshidi says many children are only taught about morals and values for the first time while in jail, which is why the work YIP does both inside and outside the prison is of paramount importance to society as a whole. She knows the task is enormous, but she also knows that for every young person YIP manages to rehabilitate there is one less criminal on the streets, which is key to reducing South Africa's high crime rate. It's tough work for a woman her age, but she believes it's her responsibility to help ensure that her generation gets it right. To her that means getting an education. "We are the future of South Africa and if we are going to make a sustainable change we need education.� � Vuvu Vena

Twitter: @younginprison