Success Stories Series :

From 'shattered' to 'restored'


Under the influence of his peers, Charles (not his real name) was placed on probation in the Singapore Boys’ Hostel for housebreaking and committing acts of mischief.

“I was very mischievous. I liked to have fun.
So, when my friends asked me to join them, I just did!”

I've learnt to be responsible for my actions and how I live my life - and I believe we all should too!

Charles’s time as a resident in the Hostel was mostly unremarkable; he generally was well behaved and responded well to the programmes and activities. However, there were two related incidents that acted as a turning point for Charles’ life.

Placed on employment in the food and beverage industry, Charles found himself in need of money. Believing that he could get away with it, Charles turned to theft, stealing a sum of money directly from the cash register. He quickly hid the amount of money that he stole, and later lied when confronted about it. “I just denied stealing the money and offered for them (his employers) to check me. Since I knew that the money was very well hidden, I was very confident that they won’t be able to find it.” Unable to prove that Charles had stolen the money, Charles was allowed to leave.

“At first I was excited because I was not caught. But then I felt very guilty. I knew that it wasn’t the right thing to do. I struggled with this until I was afraid of going back to the Hostel. Luckily one of my fellow residents advised me to not make matters worse by running away.” The guilt Charles felt eventually led him to confess to his case worker, and apologized to his employer, returning the stolen sum in full. This incident caused Charles to receive a written warning on his probation. On the verge of failing his probation, Charles felt hopeless, responding negatively to his case worker during individual sessions.

“Although I wasn’t religious, I was interested to find out more, so I just signed up.” This was Charles’ introduction to a group of volunteers that would help change his life. The volunteers, who were part of a religious organization, would conduct weekly classes to cater to the needs of the residents in the Hostel that professed to the faith. These classes were open to all residents but were not forced upon them. Charles chose to attend this classes with the sole aim of finding out more but ended up building strong relationships with the volunteers. “I enjoyed their company. They were very easy going, kind, treated me with respect and always made me feel welcome.”

Encouragement from these volunteers, the staff of the Hostel, his probation officer, and most importantly, his mother allowed Charles to pick himself up. He displayed great improvement in his conduct and attitude in the Hostel and even found new employment at a bicycle shop. “When I was in the bicycle shop, I love cleaning bikes. It gives me immense satisfaction when I was able to make something filthy and dirty look like new again.” Charles’ own words act as a metaphor to his life. Just as he enjoyed restoring a bicycle, he was being restored in his own life too.

The effort of the community that rallied around Charles when he was down is what led him to successfully complete his residency in the Hostel. He currently pursues an education in culinary skills, still meets the volunteers regularly, and has this to say to all youth, “Not all incidents you can get away with. Some incidents happen to help you grow. I’ve learnt to be responsible for my actions and how I live my life – and I believe we all should too!”

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