News About Drugs At Home & Away
Shin Min Daily Features SANA
Yesterday, my friend sent me a hilarious message about drugs. Apparently he was flipping through the Shin Min Daily, a Chinese newspaper, when he saw an article on drug abuse. What nearly sent him into cardiac arrest was seeing my photograph attached. Upon careful inspection, he realised it was an interview about My Journey With SANA So Far.
Society Magazines Cover Charity Golf Fundraiser
In fact, that photograph was taken at charity golf fundraiser for the Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association on 10 September. We were joined by editors from Heart Media & Apical Magazine. Read more about our event in these online articles by society magazines, Prestige: https://www.prestigeonline.com/sg/people-events/events/event-photo-gallery-sana-charity-golf-dinner-2019/ and Tatler: https://sg.asiatatler.com/events/sana-charity-golf-dinner-2019. Since then, we’ve been busy with our partner organisations, both locally and internationally.
Appreciating Volunteers In The Fight Against Drugs
Of all our valued partners, the most integral is our team of volunteers. On 15 November, my board & I set aside time to thank our donors & volunteers over dinner. Our Guest Of Honour was Mr Christopher de Souza, MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC. In fact, he shared that years ago, he himself was a volunteer with SANA. He warmly greeted some familiar staff & volunteers, who were delighted that he remembered them.
As for me, I was honoured to spend time with our SANA Peer Leaders. Who are they? Well, they are recovering clients who have shown commitment and are gainfully employed. After all, no matter how sincere we are, unless you’ve been on the same journey, you won’t be able to fully understand the struggles of people in recovery. The empathy our Peer Leaders show go a long way to help other recovering addicts. Currently, we have a pool of almost 60 Peer Leaders. Through various training programmes, we help them go further with education and job opportunities. And they in turn inspire our clients.
Yellow Ribbon Community Project
Appreciation Dinner With Agency Partners
The Yellow Ribbon Community Project is one of the partner organisations that SANA works closely with in the CARE network. When they invited me to their appreciation dinner for agency partners on 30 October, I attended with my nine-year-old son, M4. He met the Guest of Honour, Ms Sun Xue Ling, MP of Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, as well as other CARE network Chairmen who were all very kind to him.
The person who left the biggest impression was probably a young lady who sang onstage. She was recovering from an addiction to drugs and in a halfway house. He asked her lots of questions about her emotional recovery and she was sweet & honest in her answers. She gave him a lot to think about. I’m sure he learnt more from that evening than his whole afternoon pouring over textbooks.
Besides the gift of music, we also appreciated other talents such as culinary skills. For instance, a special item on the dinner menu was the rendang dish that was concocted by prisoners in a competition. That evening, it was presented by the chefs at Suntec City Convention Centre. Given a second chance, I’m sure ex-prisoners will be able to go far with their talents. The question is, whether the community is mature enough to support them. And that’s on us all.
Grassroots Appreciation Lunch
On 23 November, Singapore Prisons Services & SANA organised the Yellow Ribbon appreciation luncheon for our grassroots partners. Guest Of Honour, Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Heng Swee Keat, spent time chatting with volunteers who explained how they help our clients’ families. We also discussed the changing landscape of the types of drugs that cause addiction. Of note, the community found it challenging that there are myths on the internet alleging that marijuana has no ill effects. Another emerging problem is the appearance of modified chemicals that imitate recreational drugs but may cause even more harm. All in all, it was a sobering discussion. I was grateful that the conversation took place among various representatives from the community. That the Deputy Prime Minister himself took a keen interest in this, made the conversation particularly meaningful for our volunteers.
ASEAN NGO Conference On Reducing Demand For Drugs
Press Conference With IFNGO
On 26 November, I jetted off to Jakarta to attend a press conference organised by the International Federation of NGOs. As I hadn’t seen much of M4 due to work, I decided to whisk him along as well. Hence, he met Augusto Nogueira, President of the IFNGO and other heroes.
My son also watched me field questions about Singapore’s efforts to reduce the demand for drugs, particularly among the millennials. Later he asked me, if drugs are so bad for our health, why don’t we make them illegal? His look of innocence & confusion when he realised that they are indeed illegal spoke volumes. He couldn’t fathom why young people choose to take them anyway at great personal risk. And that is really the essence of it. We need to do research and interact with our clients to understand their reasons why they choose to take drugs, which may be different for different cohorts. Jamming a one-size-fits-all message about how drugs are bad for you, really isn’t going to cut it.
Speaking About Addiction Amongst Millenials
In fact, I shared more about our community outreach plans the next day to an esteemed international audience, including this curious son. I was honoured to represent Singapore in the first plenary session on 27 November. The title of my talk was, “Inspiring Positivity”, in which I discussed SANA’s aspirations and how we engage youth in preventive education about drugs. Finally I shared about our programmes to equip our clients & their families in their journey of recovery.
Since many in my audience were from Indonesia, I tried to deliver a bilingual presentation in Bahasa & English. My team mate, Fazly, rose to the challenge & patiently coached me. Since my audience laughed at all the right lines, I assume it went well. If it didn’t, they sure were very polite about it, for which I’m very grateful.
Needless to say, I’m especially grateful that circumstances allowed me to bring my son along. As I spend so little time with him in order to do my jobs well, I hope he can understand my reasons a little better now. And that’s all the news I have for today.