On 4th and 5th October, 2013, Centre For Fathering in partnership with Singapore Prison Services brought Reading With Dad – a Children’s Day reading programme, to incarcerated fathers in Changi Prison.
This initiative allowed the inmates to have one child to visit them in person. The fathers would spend 1½-hour with their child, learning about things that they may have missed out on and reading to them a pre-selected story book donated by National Library Board. The occasion gave them a chance to re-connect with their children whom they have been apart from; for some as long as 3 years. There were many tears shed and emotional ties strengthened. Towards the end of the programme, the rest of their children and wives joined in to share a tea-break with them.
With the kind sponsorship of IKEA, we were given mats, rugs, soft toys and colourful drapes to soften the feel of the prison hall. These items made the room less threatening to the children. Each father and child pair settled into their cosy corners as their enjoyed their reading and bonding together.
The inmates expressed their gratitude for making the room friendlier and for the kind gift of colouring set from IKEA given as Children’s Day present to their children. The prison staff were impressed by how much difference the decoration made.
All participating fathers expressed how much they valued this programme and how it has given them hope and a determination to change their lives around for their families.
“After this programme, I know that my child needs me so much. When I was outside I did not realize it. I promised my children that upon my release I will not do wrong again. I love them so much and I do not want to leave them again.” – 44-year-old inmate, father of three.
“This programme made me realise how important a father is in a family. Hopefully I can become a better father on my release.” – 42-year-old inmate, father of three
“I learnt that my children need and miss me and their pain in my absence.” – 48-year-old inmate, father of four
Reading With Dad 2014 is planned to run in September 2014