Jamiyah Singapore launches new anti-drug programme for schools

(From left) Jamiyah Halfway House Assistant Superintendent Faizal Abbas and Superintendent Shariff Yatim (Superintendent), together with Senior Parliamentary Secretary Amrin Amin and senior case worker Suhardi Tejan launching Jamiyah's Youth Preventi
(From left) Jamiyah Halfway House Assistant Superintendent Faizal Abbas and Superintendent Shariff Yatim (Superintendent), together with Senior Parliamentary Secretary Amrin Amin and senior case worker Suhardi Tejan launching Jamiyah's Youth Preventive Education Outreach Programme on June 3, 2018. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
Resident Muhammad Fairuz Abdul Sattar, who attended the iftar, said that though he is not part of the new programme, he thinks it is a good idea as it will help students before they get hooked on drugs.
Resident Muhammad Fairuz Abdul Sattar, who attended the iftar, said that though he is not part of the new programme, he thinks it is a good idea as it will help students before they get hooked on drugs. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - At the end of his work day, Singtel field engineer Muhammad Fairuz Abdul Sattar does not head home but turns up at the Jamiyah Singapore Halfway House in Pasir Panjang where he stays the night.

Much as he would like to spend time with his wife and son, who will turn one in August, the 43-year-old has to serve out the remainder of an 18-month sentence for drug-related offences.

Half the sentence was spent behind bars, and the other half in Jamiyah under a day-release programme.

Mr Muhammad Fairuz said young people should look at his story and see the damage drugs can do. "I will tell my son not to end up like his father," he added.

On Sunday (June 3), Jamiyah launched a new anti-drug programme, which targets at-risk secondary and tertiary school students, tapping ex-offenders to warn young people about drugs.

The Caravan of Hope programme was launched at the halfway house during an iftar (break fast) event. Mr Amrin Amin, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Health, was guest-of-honour.

Mr Muhammad Fairuz, who was at the event, said although he is not part of the programme, he thinks it is a good idea. "A programme like Jamiyah's is good because it will help students before they get hooked," he said.

Among the programme's participants - rolled out on a pilot phase ahead of its official launch on Sunday - is a teenager who had dabbled in drugs, said Jamiyah.

Mr Muhammad Fairuz was 33 years old when he tried drugs for the first time to escape his financial woes and relationship issues he had with his then-wife. He took methamphetamine, or Ice and it sent him in a downward spiral that eventually cost him his marriage and freedom - he was jailed twice for drug-related offences.

Now, some 10 years later and drug-free, he told the Straits Times: "I took Ice because I couldn't solve my problems. But the more drugs I took, the angrier I got, and in the end, I lost everything."

He remarried after his first marriage ended in divorce.

The Caravan of Hope programme is a joint-collaboration between Jamiyah and the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB).

It comprises four two-hour sessions with each session focusing on different aspects of a young person's personal development. The sessions are: identifying a purpose in life; setting incremental goals; learning to differentiate between wants and needs; and "techniques of avoidance", which are ways of saying 'no' to people who offer drugs.

Class sizes are limited to a maximum of 20 students per session.

"The programme is conducted by qualified staff such as social work practitioners with experience in engaging and speaking on drug prevention. Representatives from Jamiyah Halfway House and CNB will also be involved in these sharing sessions," said a Jamiyah spokesman.

She added that the programme is different from existing drug outreach efforts, such as assembly talks in schools.

Jamiyah Halfway House's head of counselling Suhardi Tejan said the emphasis is on the individual, adding: "In larger settings, the students may be shy to speak up. In a smaller group setting, it is easier for the trainer to encourage them to open up."

The programme was piloted at two schools - Marsiling and Pierce Secondary Schools - since early this year, although Jamiyah hopes more schools will join the programme.

Those interested in Jamiyah Singapore's anti-drug programme for youth can e-mail shariff-y@jamiyah.org.sg