Tailor-made help for children of ex-offenders

Tailor-made help for children of ex-offenders

SINGAPORE - Eight years after her ex-husband began receiving letters from Iscos, Ms Anne Rita Francis still takes part in its activities with her 14-year-old son Aloysius Joseph Solomon.

Her former partner had been in and out of prison several times and despite being an Iscos member, was "not interested" in its programmes, she said.

The 37-year old divorcee believed the activities would help her only son, who is hyperactive and dyslexic, "to be sociable and to learn to open up to people".

It was not easy at first but she found solace through people she met there. "I felt our family was not complete but I got to know people from similar backgrounds. Some were in situations worse than mine, but they managed to overcome their pain."

Ms Francis lives with Aloysius in a two-room flat in Bedok. Currently working as a part-time playgroup teacher, she earns just $430 a month and is supported financially by Iscos and other organisations.

Iscos has also helped Aloysius through its Fairy Godparent Programme. He has received book grants and was awarded a tuition bursary in 2011 sponsored by law firm Baker & McKenzie.Wong & Leow. The year he was in Primary 6, he was also attached to a lawyer mentor from the firm.

Said Aloysius, who hopes to be a policeman: "My mentor helped me to understand why studying is important. He also took me to do prawning and watch movies. I want a good future for myself."

Ms Francis said they will continue to go to Iscos events, and hopes they will help keep Aloysius on the "right path".

Her greatest fear is that he will mix with the wrong company and drop out of school. "I don't know how long I can be there for him," she added. "I just hope he will be wise in handling all that has been given to him."

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