‘All they need is a listening ear’: These 3 volunteers counsel inmates, help them navigate life after prison

'All they need is a listening ear': These 3 volunteers counsel inmates, help them navigate life after prison

For over 20 years, Laila Abu Hassan has travelled every week from her residence in Bukit Panjang across Singapore to Changi Prison. The 66- yr- ancient makes the lengthy commute to guidance the Muslim individuals at Changi Women’s Prison. &nbsp,

Laila is an Islamic spiritual teacher who decided, when she was in her 40s, that she wanted to contribute to places that needed more focus. &nbsp,

” I was inspired by my father, who’s even a spiritual teacher”, Laila said. ” He volunteered in the prison for years before I did and told me not to judge inmates, but be open to people from different backgrounds” .&nbsp,

She was also anxious but in 2003, joined her father as a volunteer at Muslim Counselling Services at the Singapore Anti- Narcotics Association (MCSSANA ). &nbsp,

The organisation provides counselling to prison inmates through its religious programmes, including its latest initiative: Family and Inmates Throughcare Assistance Haven ( FITRAH).

As a FITRAH charity, Laila engages with residents individually and in groups, teaching them about Islam while listening to their concerns and challenges. &nbsp,

She makes it a point to make her sessions interactive and encourages the people to ask questions, no matter how” silly” they may think they are. This helps them to build up their trust and self- value, Laila said.

She has likewise counselled people given the death penalty. These “heavy” situations remind her of the value of being there for all kinds of residents, Laila said. &nbsp,

” With the limited time they have left, I want them to realize that they are not alone”, she said. ” I focus on making certain that they are at peace, that they forgive themselves, and that there are also opportunities to get better even in jail, such as being there for their fellow residents”.