David is a student of the Singapore Management University (SMU), with a double major in Psychology and Human Resources. He was the recipient of the Youth Shine Award 2010, which celebrates youth achievement. He has appeared in newspapers, his success story held up as an example for all to see.
But David was not always a star pupil.
In his secondary school days, he gang-hopped between 9 to 10 gangs, playing truant and getting into fights. He failed his Secondary 3 year three times, even after he was moved into the Normal (Academic) stream. He lost his best friend after rivals seeking revenge attacked his gang, and David was jailed for 18 months for rioting.
Upon his release, he went back to his old ways and got into more fights, attracting more trouble that landed him in jail for 6 years for attempted manslaughter.
These 6 years in jail was a wake-up call and a turning point for David, who began to pay more attention to his education. He went from a boy who could not pass Secondary 3 to the O Levels top-scorer in his class. He also scored well enough in his A Levels to gain admission into SMU.
David now works with Architects of Life as a mentor to “at-risk” youth, guiding them away from the mistakes that he had committed in his teenage years.
In this short video, David talks about his experience.
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
I have by no means had any run-ins with the Law, but I am not a perfect person. There are things in my past, just as I am sure others have, that I am deeply ashamed of; I have done things that have grieved those around me, and there are things I wish I could erase completely from the archives of my life.
But I stand as a testament to the fact that (1) people change (sometimes in ways almost inconceivable), (2) sometimes people just require time and circumstance to mature, (3) going through rough patches, stumbling, falling, picking yourself up, falling, and then picking yourself up again can do so much to make you a better person at the end of the day, and (4) as disgustingly cliché as it might sound to you, change is really all about the process, and not necessarily what’s tangible at present.
Three years ago, when Vui Kong was 19, he was convicted of Drug Trafficking, and given the death sentence. He has since then, spent three years in prison.
Three years ago, I was in the hospital, sick with an Eating Disorder. I was depressed, lacked purpose in life, and pretty much felt like dying half the time.
Take another three years away from that, and the 16-year-old me was a horrible, rebellious, recalcitrant secondary school girl. I spent most of my time in and out of the principal’s office, had way too many one-on-one “sessions” with various teachers, the discipline mistress, and school counselors who tried to make me see the importance of studying and not mixing with the “wrong crowd”. I smoked, played truant, vandalized, shoplifted, used fake IDs to get into clubs, got drunk one time too many, and did a whole host of other things I think I’d spare you the details of.
I spent a large part of this afternoon clearing out old blog posts (some of which were privatized, for obvious reasons), and I balk at the person I used to be. Some of the things I did, some of the things I thought, are almost alien to me now. I have no clue what possessed me to even think the things I did, before.
I have now (since more than a year) fully recovered from the Eating Disorder, am furthering my studies overseas, have a clear idea of what I’d like to be/do in the future, and am savouring every moment of it.
If not for the various forms of authority that had so kindly pardoned me and given me a generous share of second chances, I would not be here today. I thank God for the grace and mercy He has bestowed upon me- via the different people in my life, and I can only pray Vui Kong experiences the same.
In so many ways, I feel as if my life is just about to begin. Surely, Vui Kong’s cannot be coming to an end?
Written by: Kim
This piece was written as part of We Believe In Second Chances’ Then And Now series, where people share their personal experiences and reflect on how they have changed from when they were young (or younger), or how second chances have helped them.
If you would like to share your own story, please do. It doesn't matter how old you are, where you live or how "boring" you think your life is – everyone has his or her own experience and everyone has a story. There is no word limit, and don't worry about your language/writing skills – this is not a composition test!
Please send in your pieces to firstname.lastname@example.org.