Business Model Competition and Graduation Day

Words From Our MEP Development Officer: Jennifer belcher

Someone once said, "It always seems impossible until it's done." In fact, the person who said it lived for 14 months incarcerated at the same place where I have watched the impossible become possible: Drakenstein Prison. The great Nelson Mandela was fashioned into the man he was not after his release but during his dark years behind bars. The past 9 months I have watched 26 men push themselves and make miraculous transformations before my very eyes from hardened criminals to well spoken professionals, men of integrity and an inspiring brotherhood determined to change South Africa.  

2015 Competition Winner

2015 Competition Winner

On Saturday October 3, 2015, we watched these same men step out of their comfort zones and deliver polished, professional business pitches to a panel of guest judges comprised of business owners, executives and professionals. The winner of the competition was ironically the one who feared public speaking most. He not only overcame his fear of public speaking but achieved what he thought wasimpossible- winning the entire Business Model Competition with his Eco-friendly Container Housing business concept. 

The day proceeded as each student put on a cap and gown for the first time in their life, stood proud and walked across the stage in front of family, friends and guests and accepted his Entrepreneurship Certificate.        

When I watched each MEP student weara cap and gown for the first time in their life and walk across that stage as a completely transformed, changed man... I felt more joy in that moment than I ever did the 4 times in my own life when I was the one to wear a graduation gown. Degrees and education can open doors, yes, but they can't give you hope, they can't give you faith and they can't give you love. All of those things can only be found in God. And this year, these men have shown all of those things to me. Even from the confines of prison, I watched these men greatly impact and inspire visitors from all over the world. 

Creating a true brotherhood

Creating a true brotherhood

The chains are heavy on this generation but the truth lies in what these men so powerfully sang on Saturday as their closing song: "There is power, in the name of Jesus, to Break Every Chain, Break Every Chain, Break Every Chain." The chains of darkness are only broken by one thing: love. And we want to thank all of you who were brave enough to show love and believe in these young men this year whether through your giving, visiting our class or attending one of our events. 

Over the course of the next few weeks, we will be sharing feature posts written directly by the MEP brotherhood. Watch this space to hear more about this army of world changers rising up in the most unlikely of places.  Break every chain.

Our Message Prison Team, Vuyo, Adam, Mark, Jennifer, Kwanele and Preston.

Our Message Prison Team, Vuyo, Adam, Mark, Jennifer, Kwanele and Preston.