Stories of Hope
“It’s important to have friends who will encourage you to take up hobbies, or to improve yourself to be better. The ones who support you will keep you on the right track.”
Five years ago, Osman decided to quit using drugs for good and pursue a renewed life of sobriety. At that point, he had already been in and out of prison and Drug Rehabilitation Centre (DRC) for most of his life.
Growing up, Osman had a difficult childhood. As a teenager, he fell into bad company, stumbled into alcohol and drugs, and soon found himself stuck in the cycle of addiction for over 40 years. His addiction and frequent imprisonments strained relationships with his family and relatives. He explained: “They wondered why I did not want to change until now, even when I’m so old.”
The turning point came in 2021 when he was referred to HCSA Highpoint. Introverted and quiet by nature, Osman was initially skeptical of the rehabilitative support given. But he soon realised that the case workers and counsellors were genuine in helping him to recover and remain drug-free. Osman eventually become more open to receiving and seeking help. An awakening moment during a self-reflection led to newfound determination to rebuild his life and live more meaningfully.
Today Osman is contented with living the simple life. To support himself, he currently works as a janitor with a cleaning company. He acknowledges that the recovery journey is a constant uphill battle, but he is determined to stay drug-free and crime-free.
When asked to share a piece of advice to someone who is also struggling with an addiction, Osman states that choosing the right company of friends is important: “Try to get friends who will keep you rooted in the right things. It’s important to have friends who will encourage you to take up hobbies, or to improve yourself to be better. The ones who support you will keep you on the right track.”
“Being a victim is part of who I am, but not my entire identity. It made me realise I did not want to be a victim for the rest of my life.”
For Sam, turbulence and instability marked her childhood. During the early years of her life, there was domestic violence between her mother and then-stepfather. For her safety, a young Sam was removed from her home and looked after by her relatives and a registered babysitter. However, escalating abuse from her relatives resulted in Sam’ school teachers notifying the authorities. At the age of 12, she was placed in her first Home.
During a visit back to her own home, a traumatic incident involving her mother and then-stepfather happened and further strained her familial relationships. She was then moved to HCSA DRTC, where our care team helped to improve and facilitate better relations with her family. She credits the emotional encouragement given by our HCSA DRTC staff in helping her feel safe and supported during her recovery journey.
Sam successfully graduated from HCSA DRTC after two years and was moved into a different Home. Unfortunately, the harassment she continued to face from her family during homestay visits persisted. Sam retuned to HCSA DRTC for a second time, staying and healing for a period of a year and half, before moving on.
While Sam acknowledges her journey has – and continues – to have its fair share of ups and downs, she has shared that she is thankful for the close friends she had made during both her stays at HCSA DRTC. In her reflection, she said, “A quote that someone once told me and has stuck with me was ‘As long as you look at yourself as a victim, you will continue being one’. That quote made me realise that, yes, I am a victim, but I am also so much more than that. Being a victim is part of who I am, but not my entire identity. It made me realise I did not want to be a victim for the rest of my life.”
*Name has been changed to protect identity.
“As long as (my kids) grow up knowing how to be good, kind and honest – that is already a mission accomplished.”
A single mother to two young sons, Nathelie Ong struggles to juggle between caregiving duties and work. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit Singapore in early 2020, Nathelie was referred to HCSA SPIN by a close friend. Her case was successfully closed a year later. She reached out to HCSA SPIN a second time in March 2022 for further emotional and practical assistance. She has since received support for meals, clothing, household items and tuition for her first born, who was then in Primary 2.
Regular events and workshops organised by HCSA SPIN also gave Nathelie opportunities to make friends and connect with fellow single mothers, and bond with her children over activities.
Outside of work, she is also highly involved in her children’s studies, and is determined to help them stay ahead in their schoolwork. Book smarts aside, Nathelie strives to ensure she raises her children to be caring and compassionate individuals. When asked of her goals for the future, Nathelie says she wishes to own her own home within the next five years.
"HCSA changed my life for the better. I had hope and knew that I’m not alone in my troubles."
Having grown up at a residential home, self-dependency and survival were all that Mdm Tan knew for the first 16 years of her life. Children followed soon after she got married to her then-husband. In order to support their growing family, Mdm Tan went as far as working three jobs in a day just to ensure their children were clothed and fed. However, irreconcilable differences eventually led to the couple’s divorce and Mdm Tan was left to raise and provide for their children on her own.
Determined to improve her family’s circumstances, Mdm Tan opened up to a friend and was introduced to HCSA SPIN in 2017. At HCSA SPIN, she was matched with Sharon, a Befriender who till this day provides emotional support to her through occasional phone calls.
HCSA SPIN also ensured that the family was provided with necessary essentials during times of need, particularly during the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic. “SPIN provided me and my family with food rations and other essential items. Even during the Covid period, we received frozen food delivered to my home,” she said. Regular ‘empowerment’ events at HCSA SPIN also gave Mdm Tan opportunities to gain new knowledge and create new friendships with fellow single parent members and volunteers.
Today Mdm Tan and her family strive to give back the support they’d once received, by actively looking out for her neighbours. In fact, she sought legal guardianship of the young child of a known acquaintance, demonstrating her caring nature and spirit in spite of the challenges she’d gone through.
“I felt grateful that this course not only taught me about cooking, but also about being a better person.”
Since young, food had been a source of fascination to Aarush*. When he first chanced upon HCSA Academy on hcsaacademy.sg, he was intrigued. Seeing his fascination, his partner also shared about a feature story of a former graduate of HCSA Academy being shown on the President’s Star Charity 2021 telecast. She encouraged him to consider pursuing his love for cooking and making it a viable career in the F&B industry. As Aarush had recently embarked on a journey towards personal reformation, he then decided to enroll into HCSA Academy’s WSQ Higher Certificate in Food Services (Culinary Arts).
During the rigorous 6-week course, Aarush approached every lesson with enthusiasm, and took every challenge in his stride. He shares: “I enjoyed learning about the different techniques and methods of cooking. Moving forward, I would like to keep learning more, such as creating more cuisines out there. There is just so much to learn!” He credits the chef trainers for their patience and guidance in teaching him essential fundamental culinary skills and ways around the kitchen.
Attaining this new qualification has given Aarush the motivation he needed to stay true to his goal to change and build a better future for himself.
*Name has been changed to protect identity.