When most people think of Cape Town they think of one of the world’s most exotic holiday destination, set against the backdrop of the stunning Table Moutain.
But when former Portadown College student Zara Porter jets off for the southern tip of Africa in about three weeks’ time probably the last thing on her mind will be the sun and sand of Camps Bay beach.
Zara, who has recently graduated from Glasgow University, is going to spend three months in the Cape Town area where she will volunteer with the Hope Prison Ministry.
While she is there, she will be working within 14 juvenile centres and prisons around the Western Cape, as well as participating in various restorative justice programmes run by the ministry, which aims to rebuild relationships between inmates and their families.
The 22-year-old explained how the trip came about. She said, “I have graduated but I didn’t want to look for a job just yet, I had a look around at different things and came across this. I will be getting trained as I go along and it should be an interesting trip, a real learning experience.”
The prospect of working within a prison may seem an intimidating prospect to many of us, but Zara believes she handle what could be a daunting experience.
“I think it will hit me when I get there, I have never been into a prison before that will be a big wake-up call,” she said.
“But I will be given a mentor when I get there, I won’t be left to deal with things on my own.”
Many of the prisons are in rural areas, built well outside Cape Town during the apartheid area. Zara will stay in Wellington, about 40 minutes outside Cape Town itself.
She said, “For a lot of the families it’s really difficult for them to get out to those rural areas to visit their loved ones,” said Zara.
“From what I’ve been told a lot of people who work in the prisons are former inmates themselves so meeting them and working with them will be really interesting.”
Zara has never been to South Africa before but at least she has experience of Africa, having spent time in Uganda with Portadown charity Fields of Life.
As part of her efforts to fundraise for the three month long internship, she is planning a Cakes for Cape Town event tomorrow (Saturday). The cake and coffee morning will take place in Richhill Methodist Church Hall and run from 10.30am until 2pm.
You are invited to come along and bring a friend - your support would be greatly appreciated as Zara bids to raise money for a very worthy cause.