Sow a Seed mentors ready

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On 25 June, 2019, six volunteers signed their contracts with the Fiji Corrections Service which now makes them official mentors for inmates.

This initiative called the Sow a Seed Mentoring program is a first for the FCS and is specifically targeted at first offenders between the ages of 19 to 25.

The mentors signed up are the first lot and a few more are likely to be signed up in the near future.

The pilot project is aimed at bringing a holistic approach to the rehabilitation of first time offenders so that they return back to society more confident and ready to take on the stigma of being incarcerated.

The FCS had earlier this year advertised for volunteers to come in as service providers and mentor young inmates in the Corrections Center.

“We have had an overwhelming response from the public,’’ said FCS Commissioner Commander Francis Kean.

“We had to turn down a lot because we had to be very careful with who we selected them, the program was first announced in 2016 but it really did not blossom until this year because we have put in a lot more effort and now have more resources with us.”

The new service providers were all selected based on their experience in mentoring youths or as a social support worker.

The six include; Mr Amani Waqetia, who is a volunteer youth worker for Salvation Army, Ms Titilia Tuidraki Valentine, a fitness and wellness instructor from Nadi, Mr Josefa Ratu, a Nadi based businessman who is also a former Fiji Corrections officer with 22 years’ experience, Mr Simon Whitehead, an Australian working in Fiji as a financial advisor, Ms Marie Stephens, a retired emotional support worker, Pastor Aminiasi Nabainivalu, an ordained pastor for All Nations Christian Fellowship, and Mr Leone Nayacalevu, a freelance human resource consultant.

“This is part and parcel of our rehabilitation program where we bring in people to mentor these young people who have fallen out of line and need to get back in line. Youths now make up a large number in our Prisons and with the numbers increasing as we speak simply means we ought to be doing more.

“As I have stated in previous announcements, there are no bad people, they just make bad decisions so through this mentoring program we hope to capture that goodness in them.

Commander Kean said the key areas which the FCS is now focused on is not only on rehabilitation but also reintegration as this ensures that those released do not return.

He paid tribute to the mentors who he says will be providing a very honorable service in helping get people back on track.

“This is why this program is very important for all of us at the FCS as this noble work of restoring lives can only be effective through the right kind of volunteers with the heart to rehabilitate as this is work we cannot do alone.”

Commander Kean also mentioned the support of the Government, Corporate sector and also various Provincial Councils who have also come to support rehabilitation efforts.

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