Matthew | My Story

My name is Matthew Poh. I was a businessman with the world in my fingertips. My life was at its peak, when my interior design business was booming, generating over a million dollars a year. Everything was in my control, I was my own boss grabbing life by its throat. However, one thing that I’ve learnt is that life can always be unexpected. One moment I was at the top, the next felt like I was being pushed off a cliff, hitting rock bottom.

It all began in 1994 during my 23rd birthday. My then-girlfriend had handed me an ecstasy pill. Little did I know; this one little pill would cost me almost everything I had in the future. When I first took the pill, I enjoyed the high that it brought me. It felt as if the entire celebration was being enhanced by the high it gave me. All my worries and cares just seemed to dissipate.

After my first try, I was already hooked to it. Soon, taking ecstasy became a routine for my night life. To make things worse, after trying ecstasy, I was also introduced to weed. From then on, my lifestyle started deteriorating due to my drug addiction. Initially, I was able to cope as my interior designing business had started to take off. I used work as a distraction and would focus on the deadlines instead of the urge to pop a pill. However, in 2013, my mother passed away and my girlfriend who became my wife left me for another. It was then my world fell apart, as I was at rock bottom.

At first, I thought I was strong enough to recuperate from all that was taken from me. Unfortunately, I was not. It felt as if life had sucker-punched me in the face and kneed me in the gut. I was broken mentally and could not think straight. When my “friends” came over to support me, they brought ICE along and told me that it would help me with my problems. Taking the easy way out, my drug addiction kicked back in and pulled me back into the toxic slump that I was once in.  

As time went by it became worse. I started throwing away all my responsibilities at work. Soon after, my business was charged with multiple different lawsuits as I was unable to complete my contractual obligations to clients on time. My company then declared bankruptcy and had to be shut down. With the issue of unemployment and not having money to fuel my habit, I turned to dealing drugs.

For the next two years of my life, I was dealing drugs with four other people. All seemed to be going well for me, until one day, when I had an altercation with my “business partners”, they decided to kick from the group. However, months after I was kicked out, the syndicate was caught and 3 of the 4 I knew was sentenced to 12-17 years of imprisonment, while the 4th guy was sentenced to death. This got me thinking of the consequences I would have to face if I were to get caught. That was when I decided to turn myself in, as the news served as a wakeup call to me. I was later sentenced to 8 months in prison and 4 months in a halfway house.

During my time in prison, I decided to come clean with myself and started reading the bible as I returned to my religious roots. I even reached out to those that were around me in prison and tried to motivate them to change for the better. Unfortunately, for those that I had talked to about improving themselves for the better after their release, within less than a week, I was seeing them again. Although it was sad hearing such news, the results weren’t surprising as I knew how judgemental society was and how they viewed ex-convicts.


Upon seeing inmates return, I decided to take a stand and came up with a business idea. This was the birth of The Caffeine Experience (TCE). As I waited for my release, I worked hard on a business proposal and showed it to my supervising officer Hilary Lo. Although he had declined it the first time, I was fine with it as he had all rights to be sceptical about my business plan. However, upon my release, Hillary came to me and decided to join me as a business partner as he resigned from his position.

From then on, Hillary and I started to work hard on building our social enterprise, in hopes of providing all ex-convicts with a second chance. We had a vision for TCE, whereby it would shine like a beacon of hope for all ex-convicts, as we would try our best to give them jobs with a stable income and to slowly reintegrate them back into society by imparting them certain life skills.

AUTHOR

Matthew Poh

January 7, 2022
Matthew was an entrepreneur for about 20 years before turning over to the dark side. After a short international run, he surrendered and turned over a new leaf. Equipped with business acumen, well established connections and some senile courage, he embarked on his most important step of his life, "The Caffeine Experience - A Social Enterprise"

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