Former inmates help others stay the course

Commissioner of Prisons Desmond Chin presenting an award to Ms Kasmawati Kali Ubi as part of the Yellow Ribbon Celebrating Second Chances Awards Ceremony on Oct 12, 2019.
Commissioner of Prisons Desmond Chin presenting an award to Ms Kasmawati Kali Ubi as part of the Yellow Ribbon Celebrating Second Chances Awards Ceremony on Oct 12, 2019. PHOTO: SINGAPORE PRISON SERVICE
Senior Parliamentary Secretary of Home Affairs and Health Amrin Amin presenting an award to Mr Kelvin Quak (flanked by his family) at the Yellow Ribbon Celebrating Second Chances Awards Ceremony on Oct 12, 2019.
Senior Parliamentary Secretary of Home Affairs and Health Amrin Amin presenting an award to Mr Kelvin Quak (flanked by his family) at the Yellow Ribbon Celebrating Second Chances Awards Ceremony on Oct 12, 2019. PHOTO: SINGAPORE PRISON SERVICE

Having steered clear of drugs and crime since their release from prison, Mr Mohamed Nor Ismail and Ms Kasmawati Kali Ubi are now putting their experience to good use by counselling former convicts.

Mr Mohamed, 49, who was released in 2001, said former convicts often find it easier to listen to fellow former inmates. He is an active volunteer with Jamiyah Halfway House and often holds motivational talks there, on top of running an events and catering business.

Ms Kasmawati, 57, a therapist, supports former drug addicts through her work with professional counselling firm Acorn Quest.

For their contributions, the two were among 134 recipients at the biennial Yellow Ribbon Celebrating Second Chances Awards Ceremony at The Star Vista in Buona Vista yesterday. The awards recognise outstanding former offenders who have turned their lives around and made contributions to society.

As research shows that the risk of reoffending is higher in the first two years after release, the awards honour those who have not relapsed for at least three years.

At the ceremony, Mr Amrin Amin, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Home Affairs, paid tribute to successful former offenders.

They often have to face challenges in areas of employment, financial stability and family-related obstacles, but each of the 134 people gathered there had kept going, he said.

 

"What's more, many who succeeded did not stop there. You chose to pay it forward, by becoming volunteers to support those who are still on this journey," said Mr Amrin.

"Your commitment and generous spirit are an inspiration to others who are still on their rehabilitation journey," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 13, 2019, with the headline 'Former inmates help others stay the course'. Print Edition | Subscribe