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HEARt of SINGAPORE: Meet Ms Euphemia Cheong
HEARt of SINGAPORE: Meet Ms Euphemia Cheong Home Team News “I imagine how I would feel if I were the daughter or the mother. The 80-year-old lady told us ‘Somehow she is still my daughter.

“When we first visited her, she didn’t even want to open the door for us. We spoke through the shutters,” shared Ms Euphemia Cheong, a Queenstown Division grassroots volunteer who reaches out to the families of inmates through the Yellow Ribbon Community Project (YR-CP).

Ms Cheong started her involvement as a YR-CP volunteer when Queenstown Grassroots Division first joined the YR-CP in August 2013. “I came on board the Project with an open mind, received the training and learnt how to assess the needs of families of inmates during house visits so as to help them better,” she had earlier said.

Ms Cheong was sharing about an 80-year-old female resident whose young daughter is in prison. With no knowledge as to where or how to seek help without being judged by her neighbours, the lady sunk into depression and kept to herself. “My heart aches for her because I know she is more worried about her daughter than her own living conditions. She misses her daughter badly but has no means to travel. She became withdrawn and was isolated by the community around her. It’s very heartbreaking.”

“You know, she doesn’t talk to anyone because they may ask about her daughter’s whereabouts,” Ms Cheong continued. “She always tells us she will just take it that her child is overseas, so it is easier to get through the days. But you can see the pain in her eyes.”

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Ms Euphemia Cheong is a grassroots volunteer in Queenstown Division and has been reaching out to the families of inmates through the Yellow Ribbon Community Project since August 2013.  PHOTO: Heather Leong


The dear senior lady eventually relented due to the volunteers’ persistence. She started opening her door to the volunteers who very quickly realised that she needed food and immediately arranged for food ration packs for her.

“It’s easier to enlist the help of grassroots volunteers because we live in the same neighbourhood and can find out more about the specific needs of the affected individuals. These families of inmates may also take a longer time to warm up to officers or counsellors, but we volunteers are really like them. We may be able to relate or assess their needs better,” pointed out Ms Cheong.

After receiving the inmates’ consent to have YR-CP volunteers contact and talk to their families, the Singapore Prison Service will notify the relevant grassroots divisions of the consent. Grassroots volunteers will then conduct home visits and link the inmates’ families to the relevant community resources for support and assistance.

“It’s difficult, because sometimes we are given the wrong addresses by the inmates because they have forgotten or written them wrongly,” shared Ms Cheong. “So, we do a bit of detective work, study the inmates’ description, ask residents in the neighbourhood and thankfully have been able to identify the exact units most times.”

When asked if the journey so far has been rough, Ms Cheong candidly replied: “Of course, there were times when I wanted to give up, but I tell myself to be patient, to listen, to be sensitive, and imagine how I would feel if I were the daughter or the mother. It could have been me. The 80-year-old lady told us ‘Somehow she is still my daughter. I hope she can change and reintegrate into society, and that society will accept her.’ You can’t help but reflect and be humbled by that.”

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“Let’s try to help them. Don’t judge them. Also, let’s come together to help former offenders get back into society. Otherwise, they may go back into their old ways because they feel condemned and hopeless.” PHOTO: Heather Leong


Ms Cheong also urged the community to be more sensitive to their surroundings and to have open hearts and minds to help.

“If the inmates didn’t give the consent, we might never know about these family members who are suffering silently. Let’s try to help them. Don’t judge them. Also, let’s come together to help former offenders get back into society. Otherwise, they may go back into their old ways because they feel condemned and hopeless. Give them a chance. Put ourselves in their shoes.”

© 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. All Rights Reserved.


  1. by Mabelle Yeo
  2. 10 June 2014
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