This community of people needs a second chance because everyone makes mistakes, and nobody is perfect.
My name is Mdm Jenap, I work as Head of Quality Control and am a Yellow Ribbon Project Volunteer Leader. I started doing volunteer work in 2004 when my neighbor’s husband was in custody. She eventually approached me and shared about the issues that she was facing, which led me to stay in close touch with her and to bring her to the Family Service Centre to seek help. I also brought her to see a MP for financial aid as she had resigned from her job due to her not be able to cope.
In 2009, I took part in the Yellow Ribbon Run and immediately felt an affinity to the cause. I thought that since I had already always been helping people, I felt that it would be good for me to join and give back to the society through Yellow Ribbon Project. I think it was also my natural curiosity to learn everything that goes behind the scene that pulled me in to join Yellow Ribbon Project.
Since then, I have continued to volunteer with Yellow Ribbon Project all these years, where I can help others and also build relationships and familiarity with the staff. My role also allows me to come into contact with many prisoners who have just been released. They often mistake me as someone from the prisons too. Most times, I will try to help them out if they do not have a job and step in as an adviser. I will assist in calling the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (SCORE), Employment Assistance Unit to aid in their job search wherever I can.
In 2012, I approached Yellow Ribbon Project to fund raise for the ex-offenders. Through the Yellow Ribbon Prison Run, I raised more than $120,000 towards the YRF STAR Bursary Programme. My daughter and my friends supported me in fund raising by putting up updates on social media.
I try my best to always stay involved in the roadshows too. During roadshow, i will always try to get members of public to support the Yellow Ribbon Project by purchasing merchandises made by the inmates or ex-offenders. Sometimes it’s not easy to raise funds because many people like to try out the samples but not buy them. I have come across many people who have misconception about ex-offenders too and are disinclined to give them a second chance. It upsets me when I hear mean comments from people like, “I don’t want to buy. They will never change. Why do I need to help them?” When this happens, I will try to help them to understand the situation of these ex-offenders and how they can help them better their future. After all, everybody makes mistakes.
It’s hard for ex-offenders to change if nobody wants to accept them. But I am thankful to see more people willing to accept ex-offenders nowadays, and I hope the ex-offenders can learn to appreciate them too. I often have to tell people that ex-offenders don’t just sit around waiting for release. They also have work to do. I want to show the public that they are actually very creative people who have just happened to have gone in the wrong direction – and need us to give them a chance and point them in the right direction. It is especially sad for some inmates who do not even want to be released as they do not have any friends or things to look forward to on the outside at all. That’s why we need to show them support and play our part in helping them integrate back into society.
I am very satisfied to be able to contribute my time and talents to help ex-offenders in whatever way I can. It is rewarding to volunteer and work with organisations that give back to the society. I hope to one day see a society where most members of the public are willing to give the ex-offender community a helping hand, as well as accept them and be kind to them. This community of people needs a second chance and guidance because everyone makes mistakes, and nobody is perfect.
Jenap M. Said