SINGAPORE - Having steered clear of drugs and crime since their release from prison, Mr Mohamed Nor Ismail, 49 and Ms Kasmawati Kali Ubi, 57, are now putting their experience to good use by counselling ex-convicts.
Unlike prison officers or professional counsellors who do have the same life experience, ex-convicts often find it easier to listen to fellow ex-convicts, said Mr Mohamed, who was released from prison in 2001.
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, a therapist, supports former drug addicts through her work with professional counselling firm, Acorn Quest.
For their contributions, the two were among 134 recipients of awards at the biennial Yellow Ribbon Celebrating Second Chances Award Ceremony on Saturday (Oct 12).
The award recognises outstanding ex-offenders who have turned their lives around and made contributions to society.
As research shows that the risk of re-offending is higher in the first two years after release, the award honours those who have not relapsed for at least a minimum of three years.
At the ceremony, Mr Amrin Amin, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Home Affairs paid tribute to successful ex-offenders like Mr Mohamed and Ms Kasmawati.
Ex-offenders often have to face challenges in areas of employment, financial stability and family-related obstacles, but each of the 134 people who gathered on Saturday 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.