Mr Mohd Shariff Bin Mohd Yatim started helping out in the social service sector as a youth volunteer when he was only 17 years old. The first NGO that he joined was the Islamic Theological Association of Singapore (Pertapis) in 1976, to counsel youths and drug addicts. For the next 3 decades since 1980, Mr Shariff continued to contribute greatly to the Muslim community in terms of educating youth at risk and drug addicts on the dangers and possible recovery methods.
Since his appointment as Executive Director at Jamiyah Halfway House, Mr Shariff continued to work with drug offenders by providing them with counselling programmes. He also facilitates the integration of ex-offenders into the family and the community by building positive social networks for them.
In 2017, he received the NCADA Star award for his significant and consistent contributions towards the national anti-drug cause.
- What prompted you and kept you inspired to actively contribute to the anti-drug cause?
Since May 2003, I’ve been appointed to head Jamiyah Halfway House (Darul Islah).
I obtained a Master Degree in Counselling and have been exposed to different approaches in the running of the halfway house, such as the 12-step approach of Narcotics Anonymous, the Social Work Approach, and the Therapeutic Methodology. I was able to utilise what I have learned through courses and on-the-job training to better manage the home.
The job has its own set of challenges, but there are moments when I am inspired to soldier on, when addicts not only managed to stay drug-free but were also successful in transforming their lives. Amongst the many success stories, is Mr Mohd Nor, now a successful businessman. He was awarded the SME One Asia Award in 2012.
- What has been your greatest satisfaction throughout your years of contribution to the anti-drug cause?
Drug rehabilitation is very challenging and the instances of relapses are disturbing. The work of the Home is necessary and important for as long as there are drug abusers. The ups and downs of drug rehabilitation is very well-known. We have a saying that the recovering addict may slip, but he should not fall, and if he perseveres he will recover.
This is where the Home’s holistic programme, and the cooperation of my staff provides me with the satisfaction of knowing that we do make a difference in the lives of those who want to kick the habit. But I must stress that it is work in progress. We need to continually invest in our capacity and capability-building, and always be prepared to face new challenges in the work that we do.
We have good partners in SCORE and Prison. Not forgetting the employers that believe in the work we do, and are willing to give our residents a second chance.
- Any particular story you’d like to share with us?
Alfian is another success story. He was in and out of prison for repeated drug offences. He did not think anything about his lifestyle until his mother told him tearfully that she had visited all the prisons in Singapore because of him. It was only then that he realised that he had been a disappointment to her, and that he had contributed to her unhappiness.
He joined the six-month programme at Jamiyah Halfway House with an open heart. He was inspired by the members of the staff who were ex-addicts themselves, and how they had turned their lives around, and successfully reintegrated into the community.
After completing the programme, he obtained a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering, and is now in his final year of his undergraduate programme. He never forgets JHH and often visits the Home whenever he is free.
It is not easy for a hardened addict to repent and stay clear of drugs and anti-social activities for years. He not only does his mother proud, but us too.
- Any final comments on the anti-drug cause?
There is a need to constantly build our capability in dealing with this issue. We need to learn from best practices here and overseas.