Reformed and positive about life

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Alipate recieves his cheque from Superintendent Viliame Bulewa

Thirty- six year old Alipate Qaraniqio originally of Wainunu, Bua vows that he will never return to prison but will do his utmost best to become a better man.

I caught up with this extraordinary hard working man when I visited him at Quality Prints where he is now working.

He was one of the inmates who were fortunate to be chosen to undertake job placements after successfully completing several trainings and rehabilitation processes whilst under incarceration at the Suva Corrections Centre.

Alipate was sentenced to eight years imprisonment but due to good behavior, his sentence was reduced to five years.

“I made a lot of mistakes in my life and going to prison made me realize just that,” said Alipate.

He recalled his young days when being raised in a well-known neighborhood in the Suva area.

“I have to admit, peer pressure was the main cause of my downfall and I ended up at the wrong places doing all sorts of wrong things,” explained Alipate.

“This resulted in getting into the wrong side of the law and ending up behind bars. All my dreams of ever completing my education and playing professional rugby were dashed because of the silly mistakes that I made due to peer pressure,” said Alipate.

During the official launch of the Yellow Ribbon Campaign in 2008, Alipate promised himself that he was going to change and once released, he would never return.

He set goals for himself whilst still incarcerated and worked hard to ensure that he was on the right track to becoming a redeemed man.

Alipate says that prison life is not an ideal life for anyone to go through but for self-realization purposes, it did him a world of good.

“I learnt of the importance of forgiveness and all the questions that I had in my mind was answered because of the patience and understanding that I received from the program providers as well as the corrections officers who took great care of us,” he smiled heartily.

There were lessons learnt along the way and Alipate says that they only made him stronger.

“I am so grateful to my family members who were always there for me and were always encouraging me that being in prison was not the end of the road,” he smiled softly.

The soft spoken man says that if there is one lesson that he learnt whilst incarcerated, it is to forget about the past and move forward with life.

“From deep within me, I wanted to change because I knew that I could not live my life as a branded person and I wanted to prove to my family that I am a worthy man,” he said proudly.

Through the examples that he set amongst other inmates, Alipate had the privilege of become the dormitory leader.

Due to good behavior, Alipate was one of the few inmates who were chosen to be part of the department’s Job Placement Programme whereby volunteer organisations would employ them over a certain period so that they are able to gain work experience before being re-integrated back into their communities.

Alipate was working five days a week whilst incarcerated and he would walk without supervision from Suva Prison to Quality Print which is about five minutes away.

“It was a huge challenge for me because I knew that walking to and from my new environment could conjure up thoughts of escaping but I guess I had stronger will power,” smiled Alipate.
“The support shown by co-workers and the management was so overwhelming and I am grateful for their support in giving me a second chance to prove myself,” he said.

Alipate has retained his job after walking out a free man in December, 2013 and hopes for better things in life.

“I am so grateful to the management of Quality Prints for giving me a permanent job and believing in the new me,” he smiled.

He also has a five-year plan to start his own farm and with experience gained whilst working at the Naboro Farm, Alipate hopes that he will do well.

“My concern at the moment is to become a better husband and father and to also become a law abiding citizen.”

“There are so many things to be achieved in life and prison is not the place to be.”

“I would like to advice youths around the country to make the right choices and choose the right friends because the choices that you make today will determine your tomorrow,” he said.

The Fiji Corrections Service is grateful to the many organisations that have stepped in to employ and teach inmates on various skills in the workforce.

Alipate is a classic example of the partnership between the Department and organisations such as Quality Prints in giving ex-offenders a second chance in life.

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