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Fifty-two year old Viliame Baxter is now a free man after he was escorted to his new home in Nasau, Rain the Western Division by Fiji Corrections Service officers late last week.

Viliame spent most of his life behind bars for the wrong choices that he made in life beginning at the age of 13.

Viliame said that he was totally rejected from society due to the vicious cycle of his imprisonment which made him turn to crime as a source of empowerment.

“I come from a broken family and basically lived on the streets all my life,” he added.

Viliame was re-admitted to prison in 2009 for an offence that he regrets to this day.

Through discussions and much counselling, Viliame decided that it was time he stopped feeling sorry for himself but to start life all over again.

He started to attend some programs which totally helped him to change his world.

During his term of imprisonment, he underwent several rehabilitation programs like True Identity, Substance Abuse, Encounter program, Recovery Program, Alcohol and Drugs, Anger Management and Step out Step Free Program and these programs are designed especially for sexual offence and recidivist inmates.

“I learnt about discovering my potentials and how I can become a better person in life,” he smiled softly.

After the Fiji Corrections Service reviewed its weekend release scheme, Viliame was one of the first candidates that were given the opportunity to spend weekends outside of the prison walls.

A team from the Rehabilitation unit of the Fiji Corrections Service conducted a courtesy visit to the Salvation Army to discuss the community based program before Viliame was released during the weekends.

Viliame was finally released on the 22nd of October, 2013 and was taken to the Salvation Army where they kept him for three months before the confirmation of his new home in Ra.

According to Director Rehabilitation Unit of the Fiji Corrections Service, Deputy Superintendent, Isireli Nataqa, an inmate whilst being incarcerated is assessed on a daily basis.

“Viliame proved to us that he was determined to change and it was evident in the little things that he did especially in honesty. So it was only fair, that he was rewarded somehow for his good behavior,” explained Mr Nataqa.

Mr Nataqa added that the involvement of stakeholders in this venture is highly commended.

“We are grateful to the Salvation Army for their support and commitment towards the successful re-integration of Viliame back into the community,” explained Mr Nataqa.

Through consultations, Viliame’s maternal relatives confirmed their support in providing a new home for him in Nasau, Ra.

“We are grateful to Pastor Marika and his parents for accepting Viliame into their home as a member of their family and believe that this is a new beginning for Viliame as he tries to start a new life as a totally changed man,” he added.

On the 06th of February, 2014, a team from the FCS and Major Uraia Dranikula from the Salvation Army escorted Viliame to his new home.

During the solemn occasion, Mr Nataqa said that the department is grateful for their acceptance and hopes that they will love him and teach him all that he needs to know in order to become a better person.

“We need communities around the country to give ex-offenders a second chance in life because only then, will they be able to realize their worth in society and improve in life,” stressed Mr Nataqa.

Through the Prisoners Alleviation Project (PAP) Viliame also received assistance worth $1,000 consisting of farming implements and seeds whereby he is to start his own vegetable farm on the two acres of land which has been allocated to him by his new family.

He was also assisted with food rations from the Salvation Army to help him start off with his new family.

“I am excited to start planting and I know that given a few more months, I will improve on my farming skills.

Viliame like many other ex-offenders have proved that if given a second chance, they can also prosper in whatever field they venture into.

“I do not want to return to prison because I have wasted half of my life whilst being incarcerated. I thank my new family for giving me a second chance to prove myself and I believe that I will surely excel in farming for a living,” he smiled proudly.

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