ABOUT THE YRP
The Yellow Ribbon Program (YRP) is based on a model that was developed in Singapore. The yellow ribbon motif was drawn from the song o, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the old Oak Tree”. The song tells the story of a prisoner who sought assurance from his wife that, on his release, she would still want him to be part of her life.
He wrote to her, saying that if she was still interested, she could let him know by tying a yellow ribbon on the oak tree in the city square. On his homecoming, to the ex-convict’s relief, there were hundreds of yellow ribbons on the tree.
Three lines from the song sums up the helplessness of the offender and his need for forgiveness from family and the community:
I’m really still in prison and my love,
She still holds the key,
A simple yellow ribbon’s what I need to set me free
Realistically, all offenders face two prisons. The first reflects the actual prison systems where we hold the key. On release, they enter another prison, which is socially and psychology based. The ‘SHE’ referred to in the song, who holds the key to his second prison is the family, friends, neighbours, employers, colleagues, volunteers, religious groups and the Community at large. In essence everyone else holds the key to this second prison, hence the conception for the Yellow Ribbon Project to address this.
The Yellow Ribbon Program was promoted as being responsive to offenders and the general welfare of the public as it assisted with the rehabilitation of the prisoners and the overall improvement of prisons.
By providing rehabilitative opportunities such as instruction in farming techniques and industry skills, literacy courses, spiritual counseling and education on alcohol and drug abuse the project was seen as addressing the country’s social and economic problems such as unemployment, poverty eradication and the poor literacy rate amongst adults that contribute to crime.
Various public activities have been organised to create public awareness and promotion of the YRP. Awareness continues to be made in the urban and rural areas promoting its objectives and educating the public on matters relating to the need for reform and greater involvement from the community.
The program was launched by Mr Desmond Chin of the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprise on October 12, 2008.
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said it was fitting that Mr Chin launched the YRP in Fiji as the concept was borrowed from Singapore.
A Yellow Ribbon walk/run is held annually to commemorate this event; raising awareness on giving people (ex-convicts) a second chance at life and their successful re-integration back into the community.