Turning his life around

By Danielle Sendou Ringgit


“I WAS UNDER A LOT OF drugs and I mixed the drugs as well for a very long time – maybe two to three years of my life. I was on drugs almost 24 hours a day and I was very unproductive,” confessed Elvin Anasta Sia. He’s only 17.

Elvin was 14 years old when he first started delving into drugs due to depression. Born and raised in Papua New Guinea to a New Guinean mother and a Sarawakian father, Margaret and John Sia, he was 12 years old when the family moved from small town Goroka in Papua New Guinea to Kuching due to his father’s business.


Justine Qhinn (left) and founder of PNG Made Clothing Elvin John Sia.

DJ Justine Qhinn (left) and founder of PNG Made Clothing Elvin Sia.


“I was homesick because I did not want to move to Malaysia. When we moved to Malaysia, it was only supposed to be a holiday and about a week before we were supposed to leave, my dad told us that we would start school the following week and we would be staying here,” said Elvin.

“For me, I love living in Papua New Guinea because of the lifestyle and everything. And of course, if you move to a new place, it is a whole new culture and it was definitely a culture shock: I did not like being in a new place and that kind of led to depression,” he added.

Elvin tried to cope with his new life in Kuching. Continuing his education at Lodge International School, he was active in many school sporting events, participating in track and field as well as football.

But that did not stave off his homesickness. Elvin also suffered from sleep deprivation and experienced night terrors in the form of a recurring nightmare where he would see himself closing the lid of his own casket consistently from when he was 12 until he was 15.

“I was horrified; I could not sleep, so I basically made myself stay up because I was so afraid to go back to sleep. I was basically destroying myself mentally and everything because I need to sleep and rest and that was when I started taking drugs to numb the pain and escape whatever it was,” said Elvin.

“I thought it was helping me before, but when you think about it, the drug was like a bullet and your life being the finishing line,” he said.

It wasn’t until he met DJ Justine Yong while she was doing a show at Pullman Hotel last September that Elvin decided to turn his life around. Even though that was the first time they met, he sat down and had an earnest talk with Justine.

“Justine is only a year older than me but she has accomplished a lot more and it kind of motivated me because I was thinking ‘what I am doing with myself’,” said Elvin on what prompted him to make a fresh start with his life.

A few days after their chat, Elvin got a phonecall from Justine offering him to be a part of a drugs-and-alcohol-free campaign.

Elvin worked fast. Two days later, he had come up with a design for the campaign. Amazed by his work and skill, Justine then requested a total of 20 of his designs.

“I have always done drawing but I never really showed it to anybody, I never thought it would become anything,” he said. Earlier last year, he had begun working on his own clothing line as a result of requests from friends, but that got put on hiatus because of his drug addiction.

“Then I met Justine and that was when everything got kickstarted,” said Elvin.

Elvin is starting life anew, and this month he will be moving to Kuala Lumpur to study audio production and will continue designing merchandise under his clothing brand PNG Made Clothing for an anti-drug awareness campaign created by Justine, ‘Turn Up the Music, Turn Down the Drugs’.


Justine and Elvin posing with one of his T shirt (back design)

Justine and Elvin posing with one of his T shirt (back design)


He is also in the middle of releasing his ‘Inca Inspired’ collection of shirt designs, inspired by the extinct empire in pre-Columbian America.

“At the end of the day it was a mistake, it’s something I can’t take back but it was something that you can really learn from and move forward to be better. It could have been much worse, but I am happy it happened this way and that I learnt this way,” said Elvin.

“It is not worth the time and money and it is not worth wasting your life on it when you could be doing so much more than hanging around in a room doing drugs and being unproductive.”

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