Last Saturday, I was reminded once again why I am still serving in the book trade after 16 years, when many have come and gone. With the all too often news about bookstores closing and dwindling sales of books, it has not been easy to survive, much less thrive in this what some people label as “sunset” industry.

In case you are curious, last Saturday we co-organised a learning forum “From Relapsed to Redeemed” with Lifelong Learning Institute under the umbrella of SkillsFuture Festival 2019. This learning forum is a spin-off from a book of the same title that we had published. The book is written by Ram Dubey, who is also the author of From Drunken to Driven.

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Close to 200 participants came, amongst them people in recovery from drug addiction, families, support groups, counsellors, social workers, academics, community leaders, business people, etc. The reality is statistics have shown that 70-80% of people in recovery relapse and return to drug within the year following rehabilitation. One common message rang loud and clear from all the speakers on stage – one can never recover from drug addiction till the day we return to earth, It is like a dormant volcano or cobra in the mind, always waiting to erupt or strike when the opportunity arises. Hence to stay clean and sober, it takes a village to embrace and support those who have realised their folly and got on the path of recovery. As written in the book From Relapsed to Redeemed, people addicted to drugs are not doomed forever. Through factual research, insightful ideas, and inspiring quotes, the book explains how they can turned their lives around with H.O.P.E which stands for Honesty, Openness, Positivity and Endurance. Ram Dubey shared the same message to all participants in his keynote speech.

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On that day, I heard the most authentic and powerful sharing from people in addiction recovery turned anti-drug advocates. Their willingness to be vulnerable on stage shows their determination to stay clean and their relentless efforts to help others in the same predicament is exemplary. In helping others, you help yourself. I witnessed entire families coming together on stage to demonstrate their support for their loved ones. We can be bruised but we must never lose. I saw the audience taking a pledge together and also opening up by sharing their recovery stories and shining the light for others that they too, can lead a life of abstinence. I was also mesmerised by the powerful vocals of Azmi and Friends band group who found new meaning in life through the power of music.

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My salute to all the speakers, panellists, and members of the audience who showed up as a community, especially to Ram Dubey, Ranjit Singh, Bruce Mathieu, Ramli Abdullah, Matthew Poh, Aziz Hashim, and Ryzal Mikhail.

On 13 July 2019, I rediscovered my sacred calling again. It dawned on me that sometimes we discover our purpose from the outside and not the inside.

About Phoon Kok Hwa

Phoon Kok Hwa is a Publisher at Candid Creation Publishing, a award-winning and leading bilingual independent publishing house based in Singapore, where he has spent the last 15 years coaching and supporting aspiring authors to get their books written, published and distributed.

He is also the lead facilitator for the authorship workshop “So You Want To Be An Author”, where aspiring authors are propelled towards publishing success through the 6P framework of Publishing.