For some inmates and ex-offenders, the path to rehabilitation is made easier when it is shared by a fellow traveller.
Among those who’re willing to take this journey is Reverend Sam Rasoo Muthusamy. A veteran member of the Religious Group of Volunteers (RGV) at the Singapore Anti Narcotics Association
(SANA), he visits prisons to counsel inmates and also follows up with ex-offenders.
Because of his own broken childhood, Reverend Sam empathises with those who are going down the same path. He was in his early teens when he dabbled in drugs and frequented nightclubs, due to the influence of his friends. But he got a rude awakening when he saw them end up in prison, or worse.
That’s why Reverend Sam is determined to persuade inmates and ex-offenders from taking the same dark path. “Western media has normalised the use of drugs, which is harmful to the young,” he said. “They are at an age where they’re impressionable, so they must be educated on the dangers of drug addiction.”
Fighting the Temptation to Reoffend
Comprising various communities of faith, the RGV represents the largest group of volunteers with SANA. RGV members offer faith-based counselling to inmates and maintain links with ex-offenders after their incarceration, offering support and advice to them and their families.
During his counselling sessions, Reverend Sam offers understanding and hope to inmates and ex-offenders as many feel alienated from their family and society at large. He also works closely with their families, to convince them to work towards a future together. “Sometimes, all they need is a listening ear,” he explained.
But the road to rehabilitation can be challenging, and there have been times when inmates and ex-offenders turned away from Reverend Sam and slipped back into destructive habits. “It’s frustrating when that happens, especially if they were making good progress,” he said. “But I know that some follow-up cases take a long time, and they have to keep fighting the temptation to reoffend.”
Driven to Serve Others
Reverend Sam recalled counselling an ex-offender who’d been in and out of prison many times before. “Once, he even ran away when he saw me coming,” he said. “But in the end, he came back and accepted my help.”
The ex-offender went on to stay in a halfway house for two years before finally settling down to start a family, with Reverend Sam officiating at his marriage ceremony.
Having actively supported SANA’s programmes for over 20 years, in November 2018, Reverend Sam was awarded SANA's Gold Medal of Honour. “What keeps me going is the belief that the inmates and ex-offenders we meet truly want to change,” he said. “So I consider the time I’ve spent as a volunteer as just a small service.”
Volunteering with SANA
Want to learn how you can volunteer with SANA? Visit this link
to find out more.