Island News

Suva Centre breeds reformed youths

Written By : SITERI SAUVAKACOLO. Fiji’s rehabilitation programmes are working wonders in the lives of juveniles. This coincides with the Fiji Prisons & Correctional Services’ Yellow Ribbon Project in reforming
12 Sep 2009 12:00

Written By : SITERI SAUVAKACOLO. Fiji’s rehabilitation programmes are working wonders in the lives of juveniles.
This coincides with the Fiji Prisons & Correctional Services’ Yellow Ribbon Project in reforming inmates to better citizens after serving time behind bars.
Leading the change are juveniles at the Suva Social Welfare Boys Centre in the Capital City.
They are winning hearts in everything they touch and the biggest accolade came from their homes as they turn away from law breakers to good, respectful and law abiding youths.
The only thing holding them back are the bars that separate them from the society they once tormented.
Today, they are changed persons-some even continuing academic studies to earn a living once they are released.
The center at Walu Bay houses 23 young adults.
They serve time by undergoing vocational training like carpentry, automotive engineering and fabrication and welding.
Surprisingly, some of them are enrolled at selected secondary schools and few at tertiary education level.
They were a far cry from the enemy of the state that saw them serving time at the center.
Some were willing to relate their tales when Fiji SUN visited them during a weeklong disciplinary training at Nukulau Island near Suva.
The island was once home to 2000 coup leader George Speight.
We cannot reveal their identities, but the eldest of the group is a second year student at one of the tertiary institution in Suva.
He is an Indo-Fijian, and sponsored by the Government through the Public Service Commission.
“Without Suva Boys Centre I would not have been successful to where I am today,” he added after returning from sea survival course.
The group went through military survival training, sea safety and rescue exercises, discipline framework, team bonding and character building courses, how to survive during disaster and surviving under isolation.
“I was instilled discipline at the centre and the assistance of staff made me successful in becoming the better person I am now.”
He was a product of a broken home; driven to the streets and then to the center by unfair treatment at home.
Another one featured in this year’s Fiji Secondary Schools Rugby Union Deans Finals.
He is a student at a prominent all boys Government school in the country.
This Rewa lad, also a product of negligence at home, targets a career in sports. He has national rugby potential but has been locked away in the center for the last six years.
“We came to the center with nothing, but the different teachings we received here helped us survive and become successful,” he added.
“We are fortunate to attend school and do the same thing a boy at his own house does. I thank everyone at the centre and the Government for giving us a second chance.”
The boys centre is located near the Suva Correctional Centre (Korovou Prison) at Walu Bay.
Center manager, Rupeni Fatiaki said the staff was happy with the achievement shown by the boys.
“We always work together with them to find ways in which we can solve their problems,” Mr. Fatiaki added.
“They are bonded together as brothers and they do things together. Discipline is installed into each individual teenager.”
“We laugh together, cry, eat together, and do everything together,” added another juvenile who is studying woodwork.
“We now know our talent and it would help us make money and pay whatever we want when we are released.”
The centre caters for boys between 12-18 years.
“Some of these boys are not good academically, so this kind of training help them demonstrate their hidden talent.”
“The boys learn rescue skills, water survival course and discipline framework to instill discipline. We also promote teamwork and how to survive on an isolated island.”
“The education and training programmes provided by the center are holistic in approach aiming to instill discipline and the necessary skills to assist them personally and socially.”
He said counseling was part of training to strengthen ties between juveniles and their families.
The boys displayed their skills to Social Welfare Assistant Director, Inoke Loganimoce on the island.
They even provided a surprise welcoming ceremony for our tour party which included social welfare and high ranking military officers.
They wrote a welcoming message to Mr Loganimoce on the beach- ‘Welcome Director.’
“I am amazed,” he uttered emotionally.
“I could not believe the characters I have seen and it demonstrates the success of the training instilled into them.”
“It was the staff and the military that helped these boys achieve more than what we had expected. I thank everyone,” Mr. Loganimoce said.
He added that the training has been going on since 2006 in Colo-i-Suva, Wainadoi and Wailoku.

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