Ex-convicts long for reunion with children after turning life around

The I-Kembali programme by the Prison Department in conjunction with NGO Pergak, helps former convicts find jobs to sustain themselves.

CYBERJAYA: For a moment, Alam (not her real name) stops sobbing and breaks into a smile as the possibility of regaining custody of her five children crosses her mind.

“One day, I will take all of my children back to live with me. I will make them successful,” said Alam, who has just been released after serving five months at Tapah Prison in Perak.

An addict of over 20 years, Alam lost custody of her children shortly after she was arrested and convicted for drug possession earlier this year.

Now, she’s trying her best to turn over a new leaf and prove to her ex-husband and her family that she can be a good mother and provide for her children.

“I am so grateful to have a full-time job, comfortable hostel and a good employer who has never discriminated against me, despite my criminal record.”

Alam, along with 120 other former convicts were given the opportunity to join a placement programme called I-Kembali, run jointly by the Prison Department and Pertubuhan Rakan Ghullam Kembali (Pergak).

In Alam’s case, she is working as a warden at Pergak’s rehabilitation centre (hostel) for former convicts who joined the programme. “I have set my goals to continue working as a warden for Pergak until I can become independent and rejoin society,” she said.

Another former convict, Angah (not his real name), also spoke of his struggles facing a lot of discrimination after he was released from prison.

“I want society to know that we are trying our best to change. No one wants to keep coming back to prison but most of the time, we have no choice. Society doesn’t want to give us a chance,” he said.

Angah is estranged from his family due to a dispute over which he was arrested and charged in August.

He declined to elaborate on the nature of the dispute, but said he had surrendered himself to the police which resulted in the trial judge giving this single father of three a lenient punishment of two months’ jail.

“During my time in prison, I saw a lot of former inmates coming back to jail,” he said, adding that without the Pergak placement programme, he might have suffered the same fate.

He is currently employed by Pergak as a maintenance technician at the NGO’s headquarters.

Angah said none of his children know of his whereabouts, but they still keep in touch occasionally. “I will go and visit them once I am successful.”