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Achievement is doing something that people said you cannot do - by N.A.

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'N' Level student-inmate from Changi Women's Prison

2nd Prize

For the past thirty-five years of my life, I’ve spent almost twenty wasted years of my life being in and out of incarceration. Since 2001 until now 2017, I have been incarcerated four times. My children have been deprived of my love and care. Since they are born until now, as teenagers, they have been regular visitors of the prison visiting their mum every now and then. I am lucky that I have my parents who are still healthy to take care of my children.

If my parents are not around and myself keep on repeating my drug offences, I believe my children would have to be sent to Children’s Society Home. My parents took over my role as a mother, giving unconditional love and care to my children. Although I am selfish, my parents and children never failed to give me the encouragement that I need. No doubt, this is my harshest sentence, which is eight years imprisonment, they never give up on me, condemn or criticize me. Instead, they advised me without fail. I knew they were disappointed with me but they did not show because they do not want me to have low self-esteem. With God’s gracious, I am one of the lucky inmates who has full family support.

Now I am left with two years and eight months upon my release. Last year after a few months of self-reflection. I began to tell myself to do something that will benefit me in the future. I started to think about taking up studies as I have three more years to go.  I told myself, do I still want to work as a production operator at a factory or as a cleaner at shopping malls? I did not look down on these jobs because these are still legal jobs but since I can upgrade myself, why not? When we have better education, we can get better jobs with better prospects. I am a single parent and I do need to support my children when I am released. So when I have a better job and better pay, it will make my life easier to send them for better education. I went for the placement test for my studies and I was selected for ‘N’ levels based on my results. I was overwhelmed but not too long. I had to study for six subjects.  I may not be that old but I had not studied for almost sixteen years.

I believe no one is ever too old to study. When I started school, it was very hectic. I had to get to know new subjects, which I have never learn before. A lot of things are new to me. The syllabus now is a far cry from what I learnt in mainstream schools. But one thing for sure is I did not regret in choosing to study. I will persevere and work hard. Although I did not do quite well for my mid-year exams, I never lose hope. I failed my biology and mathematics but that does not bring me down. I believe I will be able to do well if I push myself much harder. I also felt that I have changed a lot. I began to be more serious in my work. I am no more the harum-scarum girl who always waste her time doing mundane things.  Started to give positive vibes to my peers encouraging them not to give up on their studies. At least when we are released, we have certificates from Cambridge so that we can get a better career. Most importantly is for me not to flop again.

My son is giving me his utmost support. He is now is Singapore Poly and pursuing his diploma and wants me to do the same. He even volunteer to help me with my studies if I still continue to study when I am released. He is not even ashamed of me as a drug offender. These are the good things I have in life, which I did not appreciate previously. Even my daughter wants me to teach her because she will be in Secondary Three when I go home. Imagine my two children and I studying together. I think it will be the most beautiful moment for me in my life. I believe it can happen if I am willing to change to be a better person. I must tell myself to be resilient. I have to avoid negative vibes from my negative peers. Most importantly is I must say No to drugs. No one will be pointing a gun on me to take drugs. It is my own strength and willpower to say no to all these things that can jeopardize my future.

Now I am hundred percent confident that I have changed.  The only thing that I need to do now is to concentrate on my studies and get good grades so that I will be able to rebuild my life in the future. Achievement is doing something that people said you cannot do. On the day of my release, I will embrace my family and say “Hello, it’s Me.” A brand new me and I will hold my head high leaving this place, waiting to embrace my freedom and my new future. I will make up for the lost that I have done and I will make sure I will do it right this time.

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