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VOLUNTEER – MS CLARA YAP

Through volunteering with SACA since 2000, I have gained greater self-awareness and discovered my potential as a person. The work with the clients reminds me to show empathy, patience and be caring towards human relationships which are important in our lives. This has helped me in my personal growth and self-esteem.

Volunteering in Prisons has taught me that no matter how troubled or complicated the background of clients, it is important not to judge but to instead give them an opportunity to change. I believe everyone has unlimited potential to achieve their goals in life. At the start of my sessions in prison, I would quote Brian Tracy: “It doesn’t matter where you are coming from. All that matters is where you are going.” I would explain to my clients that I am not interested in their past; they should move forward and never look back.

My take on volunteering in prisons can be summed in A-B-C – Acceptance, Building rapport and staying Connected.

During sessions, I am mindful on how to motivate them towards positive change, choices and consequences.  Acceptance represents hope and forgiveness. Without acceptance, we are unable to move towards building rapport with them and to creating a level of trust between us. It is also important to stay connected with them and to let them know that we are committed to this journey with them every step of the way. I always take the opportunity to listen and identify their strengths and to motivate them to make positive changes in life. I always emphasise that we are the captain of our own life – if we steer in the right direction, we will lead a better life.