SINGAPORE - A 74-year-old woman was suddenly forced to take care of her grandson, 20, after her son and daughter-in-law were jailed for drug offences.
When volunteers from Family and Inmates ThRoughcare Assistance Haven (Fitrah) - a programme launched in 2019 to support inmates, former offenders and their families - reached out to Madam M to offer support in April last year, she was initially hesitant.
Over a couple of months, as the volunteers helped her with her medical appointments, Madam M, who has mobility issues and suffers from chronic asthma, opened up to them.
Minister of State for Home Affairs Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim gave this example when speaking at the inaugural Malay/Muslim Organisations (MMO) rehabilitation network seminar on Monday (April 11).
Launched last November, the network consists of 37 organisations which work with the Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore Prison Service and Central Narcotics Bureau to support Malay offenders, ex-offenders and their families during rehabilitation and reintegration into society.
"By being there for Madam M, the (volunteers) not only supported her, but also enabled her to provide the necessary support to her son, who was recently released from prison," said Associate Professor Faishal.
Speaking to the organisations' representatives at the event held at the MHA headquarters, Prof Faishal added: "This is something that we hope that each of you can achieve through your various programmes.
"At the MMO rehabilitation network launch last year, we shared that we wanted to achieve greater collaboration and synergy amongst the different community partners so that we can provide better support to the offenders, ex-offenders, and their families."
This new network is important as the 26 MMOs and 11 M3 towns under it can link up to better help families such as Madam M's.
M3@Town is an initiative under the M3 programme - a tie-up between Mendaki, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore and the People's Association Malay Activity Executive Committees Council - to serve the community.
In his address, Prof Faishal noted that the number of drug abusers arrested last year dropped by 11 per cent to 2,724, and that the number of Malay abusers last year dropped by about 15 per cent to 1,279.
He also noted that the recidivism rates for the local inmate population within two years of release are at their lowest in 30 years.
"Such encouraging statistics could not have come about without the strong collaboration and teamwork between the Government and community partners like yourselves," he told the organisations, adding that more collaborations among the various organisations under the network are encouraged to better support to ex-offenders and their families.
Mr Muhammad Asyraf Mustaffa, 28, who has worked at Majulah Community - a non-profit youth organisation and one of the organisations under the new network - for three years, said the network allows organisations to tap on one another for support.
He told The Straits Times: "We had the chance to meet with those who work at Assyakirin Mosque, which holds programmes to help those facing family violence. But they may require more training or understanding of how to connect with youth who are under such programmes, so that's where we can help."
"The formation of this network helps us connect with the organisations that are working towards the same causes. Through this, we can get the demographic of the youths who require the most support, which then allows us to shape our programmes to better help them," he said.