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Touching Hearts with a Spirit of Volunteerism
Mr William Sheng resolved to turn his life around after being counselled by a Singapore Prison Service (SPS) Volunteer. He then committed to pass it on by being a volunteer with the SPS himself.

Mr William Sheng, 40, grew up in an abusive household and mixed with bad company in his youth. He eventually became involved with drugs and was finally imprisoned from 1999 to 2005 for drug-related offences. While incarcerated, he learnt an important lesson from a Singapore Prison Service (SPS) volunteer that became his guiding principle in life.

“The volunteer said to me that true freedom could only be found in giving yourself the freedom to choose. We will find true freedom when we choose to turn away from the path that led us to crime and lead a new life,” Mr Sheng said.

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Mr William Sheng during the SPS Volunteers Awards Ceremony. PHOTO: Singapore Prison Service


Mr Sheng took this wisdom to heart and more than a decade later, he has successfully turned his life around and is now an Operations Manager in a health and wellness company.

Starting in 2017, Mr Sheng also began devoting his time to volunteering and sharing the story of how he developed a willingness to change with youth offenders and inmates.

“Being a volunteer has allowed me to speak to troubled youth and I am heartened that many of them ask me for advice on how to move on with their lives. I believe that they will learn from my experience and go on to lead a better life,” Mr Sheng said.

The ability to touch lives as a volunteer is also of great significance to Mr Zuraimi Hussain. The 46-year-old has been a prison befriender for five years and has provided religious, moral and emotional support to 11 inmates and ex-offenders during in this period.

The SPS befriending programme pairs a befriender with an inmate 10 months before the inmate’s release. Upon release, the ex-offender remains in contact with his befriender for up to six months to facilitate the rehabilitation process.

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Mr Zuraimi Hussain (right) receiving his Five Year Long Service Award from Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and Health Mr Amrin Amin (left) during the ceremony. PHOTO: Olivier Lee
 

“When I become an inmate’s befriender, my first objective is to touch their hearts. I also aim to provide them with care and support after their release from prison. Being a befriender is not just about touching their hearts but also about holding their hands and guiding them on their journey towards a new stage in life,” Mr Zuraimi said.

For his continued dedication in guiding ex-offenders back into society, Mr Zuraimi was presented with a Five Year Long Service Award by Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and Health Mr Amrin Amin during the SPS Volunteers Award Ceremony on 22 September 2017.

At the ceremony, Mr Amrin thanked the volunteers and the wider community for their efforts in helping ex-offenders reintegrate back into society and urged them to continue with their important work.

“One thing that the community can do is to understand that everybody has made mistakes and that ex-offenders should be given a second chance to contribute and give back to society,” said Deputy Superintendent 1 Mohamed Azhar Bin Zailan, 35, co-chairperson of SPS Volunteers Awards Ceremony 2017 Organising Committee.
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(From left to right) Mr Zuraimi Hussain, Deputy Superintendent 1 Mohamed Azhar Bin Zailan and Mr William Sheng. PHOTO: Olivier Lee

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


  1. by Jaiesh Sachi
  2. 26 September 2017
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