Members of the Rewa CARE Committee led by the Chairman of the Rewa Provincial Council, Ro Macanawai Mataitini, on Thursday, 17 February, made a special visit to inmates from their province who were to be discharged within 12 –months from Naboro.
“We are glad we came today because not only did we meet our sons who will be discharged soon but we also needed to see how the FCS conducts their rehab program and where do we- the Vanua stand in the reintegration process of an inmate from Rewa when he or she is released back to their families and community,’’ he said.
“Many times we just hear what the Officers tell us when they come for their outreach programs or during Provincial meetings, today we saw in reality what Corrections does behind the walls and it is quite humbling for us.
The CARE Committee (or Community Actions for the Rehabilitation of Ex-Offenders Committee) was an initiative which was first activated in the Rewa Province through the ground work of long time FCS volunteer Joseva Vesikara.
Vesikara, a former inmate in the 1980s himself, has devoted the last 30 years of his life in the reintegration back to society of ex-offenders from Rewa and has even pioneered the work of restorative justice – reconnecting offenders with their victims to aid in the healing process in Rewa.
“I often remind people back at home that we must prepare the conditions for inmates to return back and be able to have a fair go at life, they have served their sentence and they must be allowed to live and contribute back to society,’’ Vesikara said.
Also part of the group was Kalokolevu village chief Seveci Nasilisili, a former Corrections officer for 35 years, said in all his years of working as a Corrections officer, this was in his opinion the best method to help reintegrate those released from Prison.
“With 12 months to leave, it is important that the conditions are set for his arrival, he may need a job if not if he has land then we can work together so that he may achieve his first harvest,’’ he said.
“We must also know what skills he has learnt in Prison so that he can put that to good use outside in the real world.”
“I thank the Commissioner for allowing us to visit and I also encourage the CARE committees from other Provinces to do the same to touch base with their sons and daughters before they are released.
FCS Director Rehabilitation Superintendent Waisale Soqonakalou shared that Rewa has always been very supportive of the Corrections programmes and were one of the very first Provinces to come on board.