Success Stories Series :
Embarking on a New Life JourneySTORY OF A YOUTH BUILDING A CAREER PATH POST-ADDICTION
"I used to look for the easy way out of my problems," Adli says. Deep in the throes of drugs, he began selling the very substances he was taking to support his habit.
Growing up, Adli Syazani’s parents seemed to be perpetually absent. “They were always busy,” Adli says. “They didn’t have time for me and my siblings, and I had a hard time living like a normal child because I had to survive on my own.”
As Adli got older, he found himself picking up illicit habits to deal with the pressures of life. “I used to look for the easy way out of my problems,” he says. When he was nine years old, he was caught stealing a bicycle, but the transgression only made him bolder.
Eventually, he began mixing with gang members, and by the time he was in secondary school, he was deep in the throes of drugs. As his consumption escalated, he began selling the very substances he was taking so he could support his habit. Then, consequences followed and at 16, he dropped out of school. It didn’t take long for the law to catch up, and shortly after, he found himself apprehended by the Central Narcotics Bureau.
"Trybe helped me a lot. They teach you how to engage and bond with someone who can support you in life."
Transitioning to Greener Grounds
Adli spent three weeks in prison before being admitted to a drug rehabilitation centre then managed by Trybe. Trybe provides rehabilitation for youths with drug addiction, while teaching them life skills so they may make informed choices once they reintegrate into society. Adli spent six months within its premises, and things began taking a turn for the better.
“Trybe helped me a lot,” Adli says. One of the most valuable lessons for him was that “they teach you how to engage and bond with someone who can support you in life.” And one of those people happened to be Nathan Parreno, a staff at the centre.
“When I first met Adli, it was weird,” Nathan laughs. “He was going through withdrawals, and at the time, he didn’t know what to do with his life.” But one night, Nathan noticed an anxious Adli pacing the centre’s balcony. “What’s up?” Nathan had asked innocuously. Adli then confided in Nathan about an unrequited romance, and the two begin to talk.
“Would you believe me if I told you that I have 24 exes?” Adli had asked. “With a face like that, who wouldn’t believe you?” Nathan replied. It was a moment of comic relief, and the two became fast friends.
Keen to transition from part-time gigs to a stable job, Adli eagerly joined Building Eco-Systems (BES)—Trybe's reintegration service that assesses, trains, and matches youths to partnering companies for employment.
Stepping Up to the Plate
In time, Nathan also offered Adli the chance to be part of the Building Eco-Systems (BES) service. Set over several months, BES assesses, trains and matches youths to partnering companies for employment.
Keen to transition from part-time gigs to a stable job, Adli joined BES eagerly, and was assigned to Agape—a social enterprise that provides communication specialists for external companies. Agape is also known to employ individuals with a troubled past such as ex-inmates, priding itself on providing equal opportunities and reskilling to all.
Today, Adli’s role as customer service officer sees him working at the call centre, fielding calls and queries from customers.
“It’s not as easy as it sounds because it’s quite a lot to learn,” Adli admits sheepishly. “You need to know everything the client has and you need to respond to the callers’ enquiries.”
However, the payoff is rewarding.
Adli’s supervisor, Nooren Binte Rabu, recalls the first time they met. “He used to be very distant. When you give him a task, he’ll do it, but it was difficult to build a relationship with him. But I understand he’s worried about what people think of him, and that he won’t fit in.”
With much support and encouragement, Adli assimilated easily and in just a few weeks, Nooren found Adli opening up and responding positively to his new working environment.
“He’s like a stone with rough edges that you have to sharpen so he would shine,” says Nooren. “He took the challenge, and is doing well. He’s now more jovial and he laughs and jokes a lot. He communicates two ways and can talk more.”
Adli also seemed surprised by how quickly he gravitated towards the role. “I thought office work meant that you have to be in one cubicle by yourself. But I was wrong. The office vibe actually feels like school. You can talk to people, joke with each other, but at the same time, take work seriously.”
On a professional front, Nooren also ensures that Adli has a mentor every step of the way. “While I know this is a great opportunity for him, I need to make sure he has support because I don’t want him to give up if it’s too difficult.”
When asked about his change, Adli laughs. “I’m still the same guy, just with a different lifepath.” However, Nathan and Nooren recognise Adli’s progress far more.
“One thing that is striking with Adli is his willingness to learn and weigh consequences,” says Nathan. “He used to be very impulsive, but now he’s willing to sacrifice [temporary gratifications] for a better outcome. Adli has also learnt how to treasure and see the value of responsibility.”
Nooren attests to Adli’s betterment. “When it comes to products and system, he’s really good and is such a fast learner,” says Noreen. “His communication skills will also be better because of the work he’s handling right now, since it needs good, proper communication.”
New Hobbies Abound
Despite the headway he’s made, Adli is still human and prone to err. The most challenging commitment he has right now is to himself, and it’s to stay away from drugs. “Once you touch drugs… it’s like eating something really delicious, and now you can’t. It’s difficult,” he admits. “But I notice that if I keep myself busy, I don’t think about it that much.”
One way that Adli keeps himself occupied is by exploring the great outdoors. “I didn’t even know I liked hiking until Nathan asked me to go,” Adli chuckles. “My favourite place? It’s MacRitchie. It’s the best.”
His newfound love for exploration has also lifted Adli out of his tunnel vision. “I don’t just learn more about myself, but also about Singapore,” he notes. “When I went through my dark period, I didn’t see Singapore as something great because everything was the same to me. Like, this is just another HDB block, and there’s the police. But there are actually quite a few beautiful places in Singapore,” Adli reflects.
When you have this passion and you experience that drive, it's something that motivates you to do well in life
Paving A New Path
Trybe’s services like BES are instrumental in helping youths map out and embark on their new life journeys. “Life in general is stressful,” Adli says. “Because when you don’t know what to do in the future—that’s stressful. You don’t know if you’ll be someone’s burden in the future.”
The programmes Adli engaged in not only equip individuals like him with life skills, but also illuminate an alternate pathway lined with opportunities for a better future. This vision of a new, different lifepath is crucial in allowing youths to see that they have something promising to work towards, and that illicit habits are not the only escape from their existing reality.
Nathan, a counsellor at Trybe, agrees: “When you have this passion and you experience that drive, it’s something that motivates you to do well in life.”
Nooren, on the other hand, also recognises that not all responsibility falls on the individuals. “I believe everybody should be given a second chance because you’ll be surprised how people turn out. I know there’s hope and we, as a community, should give that chance so they can shine.”
As for companies who are looking to bring individuals like Adli onboard, Nooren believes that they should be willing to build rapport with the individuals. “Hiring them is easy. But for you to be a part of their journey and help them grow—you really need to get to know them,” she says.
"Right now, after my life has changed—I’ll take every opportunity available and I won’t let it pass."
Keeping Positive Influences
As with all journeys, the people who surround each individual matters. “Before Trybe, I was living in the dark, but now—positive vibes,” Adli beams proudly. “Just, the people around me—my workplace supports me a lot. They also went through life like me last time, so they understand how I feel.”
He also credits Nathan for his new perspective on life. “Nathan has supported me ever since. I used to have no chill and was bad-tempered. But Nathan helped me learn a lot of stuff,” Adli says.
Ultimately, Adli believes that it’s vital for youths with troubled backgrounds to have someone they can look up to. “Thinking back, if you have someone who has gone through what the youths have gone through, they will be much more comfortable to engage,” says Adli. For example, when he asked his friends to take up office work like his, they were reluctant. “They have their doubts because they’re not comfortable”—just like Adli was before he worked at Agape.
Adli believes that if he’s able to weather through his journey and emerge triumphant, other youths might be more inclined to follow suit. He also intends to pursue a diploma in social service, so he’d be able to extend the same help he received during his stormy times as a youth.
“Right now, after my life has changed—I’ll take every opportunity available and I won’t let it pass,” says Adli.
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