The personal story of YiP founder Noa Lodeizen
"During a visit to South Africa, I came into contact with young people in Pollsmoor Prison, and I was struck by the poor conditions that these children grew up in. I was surprised that people thought they could solve their problems by locking children up in appalling conditions, with the assumption that somehow under these conditions the children would change for the better! I came to the painful realisation that in reality there was no plan for eventual reintegration, and that in actual fact, the children left prison with more of a risk of participating in criminal behavior than before they were put there.
When I was back in the Netherlands, several other young professionals and I decided to work together to support young prisoners in developing countries. We wanted to put this tragedy—the neglect of child prisoners—on the map. And through the development of projects that focused on positive activities, we wanted to restore the self-esteem of these children and to create opportunities for their future.
In February 2002, the Young in Prison Foundation was established, and we started our first project in Pollsmoor Prison, Cape Town, South Africa. In 2003 we launched our project in Suriname. We decided to expand further in 2003, and so started up a project in Colombia, partnering with local hip-hop organisation La Familia Ayara. Since then we have also explored the possibilities in Malawi to support young prisoners, and in 2010 we expanded our activities there. Being very successful in our approach we decided to use the learned lessons for a pilot project in The Netherlands as well, giving children in the Netherlands a second change. Also, in 2014, we started a workshop programme in Kenya.
Gradually we have gained a broader vision on our work and on the issue. As a typical Yipper, I believe that with hard work, vision and a little creativity and optimism, we can achieve a lot, even when we encounter tragic circumstances. But we can only do this with your help!"