Established in November 2018, the FITRAH (Family and Inmates Throughcare Assistance Haven) programme seeks to improve services and programmes for inmates (incare) and harness existing community assets to assist ex-offender’s aftercare and families with incarcerated members. The programme acronym – FITRAH represents Integrated and Holistic support for inmates as well as their families from incare to aftercare. The families will be connected to the necessary network of assistance while their spouses are duly supported with incare services. The term ‘Haven’ reflects the roles of the office (co-located in a mosque) as a place of solace and centre of support for the ex-offenders and their families. The word FITRAH resonates well with the ex-offenders, as it signifies hope and returning to the right path1.
FITRAH is a collaboration between the M3 agencies – Muis, MENDAKI and MESRA – and community organisations as well as the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Singapore Prison Service (SPS). Muis has been supporting Prisons Incare Religious Services through the Muslim Counselling Services SANA since 1979. The service deploys religious counsellors for Jumaah prayers as well as religious sessions with inmates in prisons. Through FITRAH, Muis will collaborate with MHA and SPS to strengthen incare services. Yayasan MENDAKI will support families of inmates and ex-offenders through various programmes. Meanwhile, volunteers from the People’s Association Malay Activity Executive Committees (MAECs), mosques and the Yellow Ribbon Community Project will serve as community befrienders and visit the homes of these families.
FITRAH also aims to increase the number of volunteers (religious counsellors and befrienders) who can deliver its programmes as well as improve the quality of programmes and services for both incare and after-care. The FITRAH office is located at En-Naeem Mosque.
Weekly sermons for inmates
MUIS’ religious counsellors deliver customised Friday sermons or khutbahs for inmates. These sermons address relevant issues and matters such as the pursuit of religious guidance and the righteous path, as well as the importance of staying optimistic in preparation for life after release.
Meaningful gifts for life after prison
The day an ex-offender is released symbolises a new start in the individual’s life and the beginning of the journey to reintegrate with society. FITRAH’s new scheme, Back-To-FITRAH, seeks to be the first touch-point for ex-offenders upon their release. FITRAH officers and volunteers are deployed to receive these ex-offenders at the prison gate and give them a Back-To-FITRAH package which includes fidyah2 voucher, an EZ-link card, a prayer mat and an information package on assistance available. Forty ex-offenders have benefitted from this initiative since its launch in April 2019.
Connecting families to care and support
Rehabilitation is a challenging journey not only for ex-offenders. Many do not see the hardships faced by their family members. Community Befrienders is a FITRAH-developed group that reaches out to inmates’ families, connecting them to a network of social assistance. The group also conducts home visits that are attuned to the needs of the families and offer necessary information or connection to assistance. Mosques provide facilities for counselling and the training of volunteers in collaboration with the SPS as well as the Yellow Ribbon Community Project. This added strong support from the community will give ex-offenders an even better chance to reintegrate successfully into society.
Partnership with Mosques
A system of holistic support
FITRAH also works with identified mosques to offer after-care services and programmes for ex-offenders and their families. It also helps refer the families to 31 mosques for zakat financial assistance. Here, the families can benefit from support programmes as well as Islamic Education programmes under aLIVE, ADIL and Home-based Islamic Learning.
1The word “fitrah” in Arabic and Malay refers to a state of purity and innocence, the original form of all human beings