Fresh start at coffee academy

Fresh start at coffee academy

After separating from her husband and with her two children in tow, Ms Josephine Teo was desperate for a job.

But the housewife of 15 years had trouble getting herself back into the job market.

Two months ago, the 48-year-old signed up with Bettr Barista, a coffee academy that aims to better the lives of marginalised women and troubled youth through a programme that teaches them skills and emotion management.

Bettr Barista won this year's President's Challenge Social Enterprise Start-Up of the Year Award.

When Ms Teo signed up, she believed emotional management would be especially useful for her as she suffered from depression.

"I feel so much better about myself now, thanks to the programme. Even my two daughters can feel a huge difference in me," said Ms Teo, whose daughters are 15 and 17.

Ms Teo is interning at the Bettr Barista cafe at *SCAPE mall, learning from Bettr Barista graduate Riyo Brown.

A year ago, Mr Riyo Brown was involved in a gang and got arrested by the police.

"I was mixing with bad company when I was younger," he said.

"I was sentenced to a month in jail after I was arrested and I thought it was too late for me to turn my life around.

"After my time in jail, I wanted to look for a job."

Mr Brown heard about Bettr Barista and decided to enrol to give himself a second chance.

After the 12-week training programme, he learnt to handle his emotions better and even overcame his fear of heights.

The 22-year-old, who completed the course in February, said: "During one of the physical skills trainings, we were rock climbing and I was so terrified.

"But with the encouragement of my classmates and trainers, I somehow managed to push my limits and overcome that fear.

"Afterwards, I felt like I could achieve anything I want."

Help others

Using the skills he learnt from the academy, Mr Brown hopes to better the lives of his friends and new students.

Both Mr Brown and Ms Teo are grateful to the academy for getting them to where they are today.

Mr Brown said: "I am very thankful for all that they have done for me and if they could change my life, they can definitely change the lives of other youth at risk."

"With the way I am feeling right now, all I want to do is to pay forward what I learnt and help others like me," said Ms Teo.

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