How it began …
My journey began 20 years ago with a call from Khulisa’s founder, Lesley Ann van Selm. She explained that she had developed a programme to rehabilitate youthful ex-offenders; and had arranged for a pilot group of these young offenders, then inmates of Leeukop prison in Johannesburg, to be paroled into her care.
Whilst I was filled with admiration for Lesley Ann’s latest endeavour towards saving our world, her next request took me somewhat by surprise.
“Please come and meet these young men,” she pleaded, “They are amazing people, and I would really like you to consider taking on three of them on as interns in your company.”
“Have you gone completely mad?” is how I recall my response!
My company was, after all, an extremely conservative recruitment and human resources firm, specialising in placing senior management and executive candidates. How on earth could I justify bringing former inmates into such a set up?
Needless to say, in her inimitable and most persuasive way, Lesley Ann, talked me into meeting a group of these former offenders, and, naturally, I was deeply touched and impressed by their passionate wish to make the very most of this second chance.
So that’s how three ex-offenders came to be employed as interns in my company for a period of two years, some twenty years ago.
It wasn’t all plain sailing!
Read how we integrated these offenders into our office environment and meet some of the successes that came out of the programme.