StarVista Cat Cafe

Public Cafe


1 Vista Exchange Green,

#01-20/21 The StarVista

HTX Canteen

Staff Canteen


1 Stars Avenue,

#11-00 Mediacorp Campus

Synapxe Canteen

Staff Canteen


6 Serangoon North Ave 5,


Capital Square

Corporate Office

62 636 136

23 Church Street,

#07-00 Capital Square

HIlary Lo | My Story



Deep down I felt that everyone had an underlying reason for their actions. From there, I started to work from a different approach and started to talk to them and listened to their troubles.

Have you ever aspired to be something more? To find a purpose in doing something?

My name is Hilary Lo. When I was a kid growing up, I always dreamt of becoming an entrepreneur. I wanted to do something that I believed in, something that I could call my own. However, lady luck was not on my side, as I was not as privileged as others to have the resources to pick up my entrepreneurial dream.

Upon graduation, I was eager to enter the work force. I wanted to see the world beyond me.

However, whenever I landed myself a job, I did not feel satisfied when I was working. Everything felt meaningless to me, as if I was going through a dull routine in life until I retired. This led me to job hopping.

After years of job hopping, from banks to security posts and even technician work, I was finally at my end. I couldn’t find a job that suited me. Everything that I was doing just felt as if it was to pass time. However, one day as I was hunting for a new job, an opportunity hit me. It was a job offer to be a prison warden. This was something new and interesting to me. Although I had worked in the line of security before, it was different, as I would have to deal with actual inmates daily. Upon reviewing the job offer, I immediately took it and the next thing I knew, I was suited up in a prison warden uniform.

Walking into prison, it was a new atmosphere. One of my first tasks in prison was to ensure that the inmates were behaving themselves, and I had to record down their number tags if they were doing something wrong. When I went around to survey the area, it felt like a lion’s den, as every step that I took, I was getting death stares from the inmates. In that moment, I had never felt so scared for my life. Upon completing my task, my supervisor asked me for the names that I have recorded down. But when I looked at my list, I barely wrote anybody’s numbers. I was too afraid for my life that I didn’t make any eye contact with the inmates. When I told my supervisor about my situation, he then taught me about the importance of asserting my authority in the prison and showed me how to do it. He showed me that the prisoners feared the power invoked in those wearing the uniform.

However, over the course of time, I felt that enforcing my authority over the inmates wasn’t the right way to go, as I had never seen the inmates as a lesser human being. Deep down I felt that everyone had an underlying reason for their actions. From there, I started to work from a different approach and started to talk to them and listened to their troubles. This was when I realized that this job was something I was looking for, where it had a meaningful purpose, as I was able to motivate the inmates to turn over a new leaf.

After speaking and motivating the inmates, they all made a promise with me that they would improve their lifestyle once they were out of prison. However, with things being easier said than done, some of the inmates despite making progress and eventually changing for good after their release, there were still some returning to prison within weeks of their release. When I talked to them about the promise they had made, the facial expressions were filled with nothing but regret and disappointment. When the other wardens saw this happening, they started discouraging me from trying to help the inmates. Despite all the discouragements from the other wardens, I was unfazed by their words, as the purpose I saw in this job was that I could help others turn themselves for the better.

As years went by, the results were still the same. Some of the inmates were just constantly returning to the same cell, while others had managed to integrate themselves back into society. One day, as a new batch of inmates were coming in to serve their prison term, I was assigned to supervise one of the groups from the batch. When I went to meet the group of inmates under me, one of the inmates stood out from the entire group, whereby he was a tall hefty man. From his facial expressions I could tell that it was his first time serving a prison term, but something about him gave off different vibes from the other inmates. When I went to speak to him, he told me about his backstory. His name was Matthew and due to unfortunate circumstances, he had landed himself in prison. However, he was already planning to turn over a new leaf.

One day, as I was going around for a routine check, Matthew called out to me and passed me a piece of paper. When I asked him what it was, he explained to me that he had hatched a business plan to help him and the other convicts to reintegrate themselves back into society with a stable source of income, and he wanted me to be a partner with him in doing so. At first, I was sceptical about his plan and declined his offer. However, after he was released from prison, I started to contemplate my decision, as I remembered the issues faced by the inmates returning to prison was due to society judging them heavily based on their past, and these guys did not have anyone outside to help guide them back. After giving it some thought, I decided to resign from my post and join Matthew in helping the ex-convicts reintegrate back into society.

Upon my resignation, I continued to work with Matthew for 2 years. Within those 2 years, I learnt about the full experience of the ex-inmates. How they had struggled to push for a better life as they faced the harsh judgements from society. This was when the idea of The Caffeine Experience (TCE) was born. Together with Matthew, we had a vision of TCE being a place to provide social recognition of ex-convicts, and slowly reintegrating them back into society by providing them a set of life skills and a sustainable source of income.

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