From the perspective of restorative justice, youth offenders deserve second chances because they are capable of transformation. Among the many organizations which believe in youth reform is the Magone Home Aftercare Program (MHAP). It has been working with juvenile delinquents for seven years in cooperation with various non-government and government organizations involved with helping children in conflict with the law (CICL). The program has supported over a hundred CICLs who are trying to get out from a life of criminality. One of those who successfully gained from the program is *Michael, a former CICL who could have easily become a lifelong criminal but chose to transform and become a contributing member of society.
*Michael grew up in poor and large family. He is the 11th child among 13 siblings. Most of his elder brothers and sisters are already married. According to him, his family was disorderly so he went out with peers in the streets most of the time. In 2009, he committed a crime of robbery with homicide and voluntarily surrendered at the Philippine National Police station in Cebu City. Michael was sentenced with reclusion temporal and was referred to the Regional Rehabilitation Center for Youth (RRCY), a youth home run by the Department of Social Welfare and Development providing rehabilitation to juvenile delinquents, to undergo rehabilitation.
*Michael stayed in RRCY for more than 2 years. He did well in his program and was given the opportunity to go to college and study Information Technology, a 4-year course. However, *Michael desired to provide immediate financial support to his family so he requested to be placed in MHAP to acquire technical-vocational skills that will eventually prepare him for immediate employment.
In MHAP, *Michael did his best to perform well in tasks. He has seen the value of transformation so the interventions in the aftercare facility are internally motivating for him. “Magone Home has allowed me to experience reform realizing that people like me (juvenile delinquents) still have worth and value… that I can still be useful. Magone Home gave me hope to become a good Christian and a productive citizen,” said Michael.
“I decided to change for the better because life is short and worth living. It shouldn’t be put to waste. I want to leave this world doing good deeds to others. This will make me a very happy person,” he added.
Family support is a crucial factor that increases the likelihood of CICLs to successfully complete rehabilitation and prevent future re-offending. *Michael is highly thankful that his family was reunited while he was undergoing his aftercare program. Through family-oriented interventions, he has reconciled with his parents and siblings. From being dysfunctional, the family started to establish effective communication and sorted out issues among its members. He witnessed how his family grew to be increasingly supportive of each other. This improved relationship with family members and their support were propelling factors that encouraged him to do well in his program.
With dedication and hard work, *Michael completed his technical-vocational training in the Don Bosco Technical Training Center and his 10-month aftercare program.
*Michael wishes to be motivational speaker as well. He desires to share to young people at-risk and his fellow children in conflict with the law (CICL) who he is and how he rose above his adversities and wrong doings. He has become a guest speaker in one of the interventions of the aftercare facility. He also spoke in front of junior high students in a premier school in Cebu to share his experience and inspire youngsters like him. “Of course, I want to complete my college education for them (audience) to believe in what I say,” shared *Michael. MHAP got him a college scholarship and he took a course in Criminology for 4 years and in 2017, he graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminology. *Michael is pretty sure he is already capable of achieving his dreams and he is ready to face this new chapter of his life. He dreams to be an advocate of change for disadvantaged youth so they can be successful in their endeavors.