Category: Humans of ISCOS
The Everyday People has always been inspired by heartfelt stories shared by people from all walks of life, and they include ex-offenders who are trying to rebuild their lives with their families here in Singapore.
In collaboration with ISCOS, a co-operative that helps ex-offenders reintegrate into society, we are pleased to present Humans of ISCOS, a brand new series where we interview and feature 20 individuals who are affiliated with ISCOS in some kind of way.
As you read about their unique journey in life, we hope that their stories will touch your heart, open your mind and inspire you to give others a second chance.
There were days where I felt stressed, depressed and really broken down. Why was I still being labelled? Why were they still thinking of me in a negative way? That was a real struggle for me, but I used their words as inspiration to turn over a new leaf.
We’re all trying in life. We’re all trying to be who we think we’re supposed to be, and in order for those recovering from addictions to reach that state of self-actualisation, people like you and I need to give them a fighting chance.
In the real world, there will always be underprivileged people who are struggling every day. But where ex-offenders and their children are concerned, I think there is a need for a change in how the community perceives them…
There’s nothing complex about how I’m going about doing it. I don’t have to be a politician or impact the world in some grand way. If I can just be a friend to somebody, especially somebody in need, that fills my heart with joy…
Now that I’m out, my daughter and I are able to really build our relationship. Our first meeting was very weird and awkward, of course. We didn’t really talk much. I’d speak a word and she’d reply with a single word. But I’m happy that she is slowly starting to open up more…
We want to let these kids see the light in their situations so that they don’t focus on their parents’ problems. By linking them up with mentors who are there to provide healthy influence in their lives, hopefully these kids will be motivated to move towards a positive direction.
I think the greatest joy of what I do is making a positive impact on someone’s life. Education can really improve someone’s life for the better. When a person is better educated, s/he will be able to contribute meaningfully to society and pay it forward to the rest of the community, as was the case for me.
You can’t expect a 10-year-old to understand the world – even at 68, I still don’t understand the world either. And I know that my relationship with a mentee might not last more than two years, but hopefully when he grows up, whatever impression I’ve had on him will help him in the future.
ISCOS is preventing ex-offenders from returning to the world of crime and helping them become useful citizens of our society. Getting a job can be difficult if you have a record. I hope the public understands their plight and supports them.
Yes, I feel blessed right now. My husband and I are working hard to create a good life for our family. Whenever I’m tempted to do anything bad, I just look at my children’s faces as they remind me of what’s important. I’ve lost my son; I don’t want to lose anything else.
Unless you’ve been through the ecosystem, it really is an entirely different world. The reality of what they go through is really quite difficult. If you believe that someone deserves a second chance, you should sign up as well.
And in an ideal world where we can really make a difference, I want our students to discover and harness the community’s resources so that marginalised groups will be self-motivated to realise their own dreams and aspirations…
Yes, I feel happy and satisfied now. My full-time job helps pay the bills, but the work I do here keeps me feeling fulfilled. To call it a calling would be an exaggeration, but I do feel a sense of satisfaction knowing that I can at least contribute something worthwhile back to society.
But the kids at the school don’t label me. They’re only 14, 15 and 16-years old, but not as judgemental as the adults. Instead of pushing me away, they welcomed me into their circles. It’s an experience I cannot find anywhere else, and I’m very happy to be here.
Don’t volunteer for the sake of volunteering; volunteer with commitment and heart. Just know that the universe works in funny ways. The more you give, the more you will get. Stick to this belief and volunteer work won’t be a hassle.
I think being genuine is the most important thing in my line of work. It’s not just what you say, but how you say it. If the way you express yourself makes the ex-offender feel comfortable, he or she will find it easier to trust you.
Everyone makes mistakes, don’t they? But that’s all in the past. These ex-convicts have paid for their mistakes and are on the road to recovery, so why can’t they be treated fairly?
If you’re concerned about labels or stigma when working with children of ex-offenders, get to know the person first before passing any judgement. If I could play a part to help stop intergenerational offending, I would try my best to do so.
When an ex-offender changes for the better, we’re helping his family. When he gets a job, he will also contribute to the workforce and economic success of the country. So it’s not just a job; we need to believe what we’re doing actually makes a difference.
I think people with records don’t like to be persuaded or told what to do. Many of them are very proud and sensitive by nature. I know this because I’m like that too. The truth of the matter is, they just need someone whom they can trust and talk to…