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Ex-Offenders on Mission to Rebuild Lives in Sri Lanka

28-man Prisons team, including 10 former inmates from Kaki Bukit Centre (Prison School) on expedition to build homes in two villages devastated by tsunami

Singapore, 27 May 2005 – A team of 10 ex-offenders will lend a helping hand to the victims of two villages in south Sri Lanka, Galle and Hikkaduwa, by rebuilding the homes of the villagers that were destroyed by the December 26 tsunamis.

The team, which is made up of two groups of 14 men, will spend 14 days in the villages. The first group will be led by a former Kaki Bukit Centre (KBC) inmate, who is a trained youth expedition leader. This group will leave for Sri Lanka on May 27 and the second group, made up of prison officers and ex-offenders, will leave on June 6.

“We are proud to be working alongside this group of ex-offenders because they have demonstrated that they want to, and can contribute to society. Each of them has overcome personal challenges to take on this mission“, said Assistant Superintendent Mark Clinton Galistan, Officer-in-Charge, Programme, KBC, who is leading the second expedition group. “We hope this expedition will not only help the Sri Lankan villagers, but will also be an opportunity for the ex-offenders to renew and restart their own lives”, he added.

During their stay in Sri Lanka, the ex-offenders will not only rebuild the villagers’ homes and a school in Galle, they will also be conducting courses for the teachers and children in IT and reading respectively. Six thousand people, housed in camps for villagers displaced by the tsunami, will also receive new wooden beds built by the team to ease them through the wet monsoon season.

The team is also taking with them computer laptops, stationery and toys that have been donated by prison officers, corporate sponsors and other well-wishers. Some $10,000 was raised to fund the expedition, which is part of the National Youth Achievement Award (NYAA) programme activities.

The NYAA is a programme to encourage young people to develop personal qualities of self-reliance, perseverance and a sense of responsibility to themselves, to society and to the nation. It has been a key driver of the Singapore Prison Service’s rehabilitation programme for the last five years since its implementation in KBC in 2000. It is made up of four components: Skills, Physical Recreation, Service and Adventurous Journey.

Overseas missions such as the Sri Lanka expedition are a tradition among the officers, inmates and ex-offenders of KBC. These trips are part of the Youth Expedition Projects – which contribute to the Adventurous Journey and Service components of the NYAA programme – organised in partnership with the Singapore International Foundation for the last four years. They attest to the success of these rehabilitation programmes in cultivating a desire to contribute to society within the inmates.

Today, 130 inmates from various prison institutions gathered at KBC and received Silver and Bronze awards for their achievements in the NYAA programme, which has been instrumental in facilitating the development of life skills and positive qualities to help inmates reintegrate into society on their release. The ex-offenders who make up the team on their way to Sri Lanka were also commissioned at the ceremony.

Guest-of-Honour at the NYAA presentation ceremony, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Mr Mohamad Maidin Bin Packer Mohd said: “The NYAA highlights the commitment and dedication of the Singapore Prison Service and the NYAA Council in the rehabilitation of inmates. The expedition to Sri Lanka is an excellent showcase of how the benefits of the NYAA programme extend beyond the prison walls.”

Highlighting how the NYAA programme has helped inmates like him, a Bronze award recipient from KBC said: “This programme has exposed us to a range of activities that have helped to develop our abilities and allowed us to discover the potential we have.

“I have learnt many new skills and valuable lessons about life through the programme and hope that I will be given the opportunity to apply this knowledge and become a contributing member of society when I am released.”

Inmates from KBC, Changi Women’s Prison and Drug Rehabilitation Centre, Changi Prison Complex Cluster A4 and Selarang Park Drug Rehabilitation Centre participated in this year’s NYAA programme. To qualify, participants are to complete four components of the programme. Silver and Bronze award winners take part in the programme for a minimum of twelve and six months respectively.

Last Updated/Reviewed on 05-February-2018