Looking at Benny Thiam today, one would never guess this young man once grappled with problems of drug abuse and gang influence. It was during his incarceration more than 10 years ago when Benny found Christ and his life was turned around. Now, the 37-year-old is focussed on changing other people’s lives as a social worker with Methodist Welfare Services (MWS).
“I started using drugs when I was 14. I was a terrible student and was never interested in school. I didn’t know it then but the drug habit was probably my way of coping with the challenges and disappointments I was facing in life,” shared Benny. “But that just made me arrogant and violent, and ignorant of the people around me.”
The law eventually caught up with him twice. He served more than three years in prison.
Through the Christian counselling he received behind bars, Benny confronted his mistakes and began to appreciate his family’s deep love and steadfast support for him.
“During my second incarceration, it was this Bible verse that greatly encouraged me. I considered how God could use me as a vessel, and that was how I set my mind on becoming a social worker so I can help others upon my release,” shared Benny.
He eventually graduated top of his year in university and received a gold award from the National Council of Social Service (NCSS). He then decided to join a Christian organisation.
“God answered my prayer when I landed the social work internship at MWS Family Service Centre. I had already heard about the good work that MWS was doing, especially the rigour of its clinical work. It felt like a place I could contribute to and develop professionally. I also appreciate how staff can turn to the pastoral care team for support.”
It has been four and a half years since he joined MWS full-time, and Benny is thankful for the opportunities that have empowered him to lead and grow—professionally and personally. “My supervisors and colleagues have been nothing but supportive. I do not feel judged or doubted about my abilities,” shared Benny.
In his work, Benny supports multi-stressed families who battle with a multitude of issues in their lives, such as domestic violence, homelessness and financial poverty, among others.
“I feel sad whenever I see people settling for something less, feeling like they deserve the abuse or are unworthy of love. MWS’ message of empowerment is important because we want our clients to be empowered and believe that they too can have life to the full.”
*This story was published as part of the MWS 40th series in 2021, when MWS celebrated its 40th Anniversary.
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