14 October, 2019
Lautoka did not fail to disappoint and came out in record numbers for its inaugural Yellow Ribbon Walk on Saturday 12 October, 2019.
This was the first time ever the event was held in the West and over 1,100 people registered before the walk started.
With former inmates leading the way, families, corporate representatives, social and church groups and members of the disciplined force also came out in the wee hours of Saturday morning to register, before participating in the 5km walk around Lautoka.
Chief Guest and Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, the honourable Parveen Kumar paid tribute to those who came out in the early hours of the morning to support the event.
“This event is important as the program aims to educate the community to understand their roles and responsibilities in helping to accept ex-offenders back into your respective communities,’’ he said.
“When we treat ex-offenders as second class citizens and do not give them the opportunity to reform in order to redeem themselves, we create what is known as the second prison. To be accepted and loved is a natural human need – people will go and look for it in the wrong places if they are not accepted.”
Hon. Kumar also mentioned that the National Employment Center was going to work alongside the Yellow Ribbon Initiative also in the near future.
Fiji Corrections Service Director Rehabilitation Senior Superintendent Salote Panapasa said it’s important that communities create an environment of acceptance, so ex-offenders can feel a sense of care, love, and belonging.
“This is why we call society the second prison, it becomes like a second prison when we don’t accept them or give them a chance to make a life again.”
She also made a special note to all those who came out of their way to attend the walk from as far as Suva, Nadi and Ba.
“We also acknowledge the many companies who came on board to support us again this year, we are again looking forward to hosting another of our major event in Lautoka next month which is the Employment Expo scheduled for November 15 at the Waterfront Hotel.