SINGAPORE - Struggling with family problems while going through a divorce, Lena (not her real name) was so overwhelmed by her troubles that she tried taking drugs, hoping to find relief.
Instead, the 25-year-old mother of three was caught during a police raid after taking Ice at a nightclub last year. It was the second time she had ever taken drugs.
Now, after spending six months in drug rehabilitation and completing another six months of home detention in October, she is ready to start a new chapter of her life - as a budding make-up artist.
She is one of six former drug-offenders who graduated on Oct 30 from a beautician training course supported by the Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association (SANA) and beauty product and fashion brand distributor, Luxasia.
The month-long course was conducted at the School of Make-up in Orchard Road and was designed specially to teach the six women, aged between 18 and 31, the basics of the trade so that they can find entry level jobs in the industry.
This year's batch of students was the second to graduate from the course since it first started as a pilot in 2012, said SANA's executive director Mr Abdul Karim, 53. A previous batch of 14 students graduated in 2013, while the pilot phase saw two graduates.
Many have gone on to work as beauticians, added Ms Shakila Kresinin, 43, the senior counsellor at SANA who coordinates the programme.
"One of the graduates from the pilot programme became a freelance make-up artist and even did her own runway show at Orchard Road," said Ms Kresinin.
"Many from the 2013 batch have gone on to do bridal make-up as freelancers, while two are working full-time."
Lena told The Straits Times that successfully completing the course felt like a great accomplishment, as she was juggling a full-time job, looking after her children and going to class.
"I have always loved make-up and would have loved to sign up for a course like this on my own. But the course fees are high and I have three children to raise, so I would never have been able to afford it if not for this programme," she said, adding that she is now looking for a job in which she can use her new skills.
A fellow graduate, who wanted to be known as Joy, said completing the course meant that she now has more skills that she will be able to put to good use.
The 24-year-old, who was arrested for taking methamphetamine last year, now works as a hairdresser at her mother's shop in Clementi.
"This course has really help me a lot, as hairdressing and make-up go together. Now that I have these new skills, I can offer both services as a package," she said.