$500k for 'Fairy Godparent' scheme

$500k for 'Fairy Godparent' scheme
Ms Hazirah Ismail, has been a beneficiary of Industrial and Services Co-operative Society (ISCOS), since Primary One. She joined the Fairy Godparent Programme (FGP) when she was seven-years-old and has since received help.

When her father - a recurring offender - was jailed for 21/2 years in 2008, Ms Hazirah Ismail (right) felt alienated from her school friends.

Her mother, who had taken on on a string of jobs to feed her and her two siblings, had little time to attend to her emotional needs.

Then seven years old, Ms Hazirah got her confidence back with help from the Yellow Ribbon Fund and the Industrial and Services Co-operative Society (ISCOS), which both help former offenders.

Their Fairy Godparent Programme (FGP) provided bursaries and held activities so she could find new friends.

Yesterday, the programme was given a boost with more than $500,000 in new sponsorship - with the charitable organisation Trafigura Foundation contributing $200,000 and the industrial vehicle leasing entity Goldbell Group putting in just over $300,000.

"We believe that families should not be marginalised because of one member's faults," said Goldbell Group chief operating officer Alex Chua.

Trafigura Foundation's executive director Vincent Faber said: "We very much like their approach of preventing re-offending and intergenerational replication of behaviour.

The programme, launched in 2006, also aims to provide academic assistance to the children of former offenders.

It gives out bursaries, conducts workshops and holds family bonding activities.

The new sponsorship will go towards helping the programme's yearly 1,000 beneficiaries such as Ms Hazirah.

Her 44-year-old mother, Madam Afiah Sion, handled her childcare problem by sending the children to co-curricular sports activities, and after she was approached to join the FGP, they used book awards to pay for things like netball shoes, hockey sticks and basketballs.

The family also received bursaries for Ms Hazirah's good academic performance.

It gave her more than just money - she found friends that she could relate to.

"I felt different from other children because of my family background," she said. "I was comfortable with the friends I met through ISCOS activities as we share similar backgrounds.

"It gave me a lot more confidence and stability."

Their father has since steered clear of the law and is now working odd jobs.

This article was first published on June 13, 2015.
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