29 Nov Interview with PFS Executive Director – Mr Chua Kok Wan
On 19 November, MetaSport organised a 7km Angel Tree Run with Prison Fellowship Singapore and the event was a huge success. Over 250 participants gathered at Singapore Sports Hub for the highly anticipated run and we have raised over $150k to date! We took the opportunity to ask Mr Chua Kok Wan, Executive Director of Prison Fellowship Singapore about his organisation and mission.
Why was the Prison Fellowship established?
Prison Fellowship Singapore (“PFS”) was established since 1952. We are an inter-denominational Christian non-profit organisation that reaches out to prisoners, ex-offenders and their families in Singapore. We seek to be a Christian community that embraces this often misrepresented and overlooked segment of the community with God’s love and life-transformative power.
What was the goal of the Angel Tree Run?
There were two goals. Firstly, it is for fundraising. Funds raised will go directly to help our beneficiaries with daily necessities such as providing for monthly groceries and financial assistance. Funds will also go towards executing the programmes and activities such as children’s tuition fees/ holiday activities, adult support group programmes, family counselling and therapy services, just to name a few. Secondly, we hope that the Angel Tree Run and Ride will generate awareness for our cause and encourage the community to “Journey Together” with our beneficiaries.
You raised an incredible amount of money through the event ($150K), what will it be used for?
PFS develops and conducts programmes for inmates, ex-offenders and their families to support them in their rehabilitation, reconciliation and reintegration journeys. Our Integrated Ministry (IM) strategy is a holistic beneficiary-centric approach which affords help and support to the inmates, ex-offenders – Through Care Ministry (TCM), and their family members – Family Care Ministry (FCM).
Through Care Ministry (TCM): To provide support and assistance to inmates and to ex-offenders to reintegrate into society after their release from prison.
Some of our programmes / activities:
- Counselling for Pre-Sentence, In Care and After Care
- Short term financial assistance and practical meal support
- Prison Gate Ministry
- Prosocial Engagement Programme
Family Care Ministry (FCM): To provide support and assistance to family members of inmates and ex-offenders who are impacted by the crime of their family members.
Some of our programmes / activities:
- Care Club (held every Saturday & school holiday programmes)
- Weekly Tuition for primary & secondary students
- Milk & Diapers Programme
- Financial Assistance / Grocery support
You made kids feel extra special at the event, is there a reason for that?
We believe in breaking the intergenerational cycle of crime and supporting the next generation of citizens. Even though their parents may have committed crimes and were incarcerated, it does not mean that they will or have to follow in their footsteps. We want to be able to instill confidence in the children, encourage them to stay within the education system, be able to make wise decisions for their futures and walk the straight and narrow path. This is our only preventive work.
Do you see sport having a positive impact on the wellbeing of your audience/clients?
Definitely. Sport brings people of different demographics together. It creates confidence in people and encourages them to thrive and excel in the sport that they like. Team sports provides a small community where each team member is interdependent on one another to achieve the goal or to go the distance. To enhance the effort, we need to encourage good habits to replace the bad ones, and sport provides a good platform for new healthy habits, with the fresh air and exercise.
What is one thing you’d like PFS to be recognised for?
One key objective is for our beneficiaries to “become a blessing to society.” Today, we have 120 ex-offenders volunteering with PFS, serving in In Care. This represents 12% of our volunteer base. If we are to be recognised, we want to lead our beneficiaries to serve others and not to be served. For us “no one is left behind” is not a cliché but a reality and we are committed to this to journey together.
Where do you see PFS in the future?
We see PFS engaging, equipping and mobilising the community to give ex-offenders a second chance in life, to have a better second half, a more significant purpose in life. We believe this agenda has a wider impact in making Singapore a kinder and more compassionate nation, knowing full well that this will improve the recidivism rate in Singapore and effectively work ourselves out of a job.
Are there any meaningful stories from PFS that you can share with us?
Currently, we are supporting a recently released ex-offender reuniting with his family, a loving wife and 3 children. Less than 2 months into his early release, he was diagnosed with cancer. Undergoing cancer treatment, we asked what we can do to further help him. He asked for assistance to legally adopt his eldest step-daughter born to his wife from a previous relationship, as he feared the cost of her tertiary education as a foreign student on student pass may be too much for the family to bear. We managed to find a low bono lawyer to advise and file the necessary applications, to ensure the family unit can stay intact, instead of sending the daughter back to their home country for her university education. This is what IM Ministry is about when we speak of holistic support.