Feature

From Offender To Redeemed Man, How Kaminieli Vakatalai Changed His Life Around

Kaminieli Vakatalai from Waciwaci, Lakeba, Lau, is a completely changed man.
22 Sep 2019 15:09
From Offender To Redeemed Man, How Kaminieli Vakatalai Changed His Life Around
Kaminieli Vakatalai. Photo: Fiji Corrections Service

Kaminieli Vakatalai from , is a completely changed man.

In 2017, he was convicted for assaulting two brothers from his village.

He claimed that they stole tomatoes from his farm on a Sunday and he had caught them red-handed.

At the time, his tomatoes were ready to be harvested.

“I was at the church service on a Sunday when I saw the two brothers going to the farm,” he said.

“I followed them and I saw them picking tomatoes in my farm. They had filled a flour sack.

“When I arrived, I punched them and chased them away.”

He said this led to them filing a Police case against him and eventually spending eight months and 20 days behind bars.

While at the Fiji Corrections Service facility, he said it was an eye opener for him.

The biggest one was Government’s Yellow Ribbon or rehabilitation programme which helped him find his way back into society.

As result, when he was released, he started farming again in his village. But this time, he went bigger.

Mr Vakatalai plants vegetables, yaqona, bananas, pineapples and yams, cassava and other food crops.

Currently, he has on the ground 600 pineapples, 600 vudi and 3000 two-year-old yaqona.

After farming he goes fishing and sells his catch to the villagers.

“Money I get from the fish I used it to expand my farm.”

Mr Vakatalai has contributed a lot to the vanua since his release.

He has gone past the two years follow-up period and the Fiji Corrections Service was grateful to note that he had successfully re-integrated into the community.

Success journey

Mr Vakatalai was visited during the Lau Provincial Council meeting held at Tubou, Lakeba in Lau in April this year.

As a result, he participated in the Ministry of Agriculture’s annual Yam Competition in Lau.

The event is jointly organised by the Ministry of the iTaukei Affairs coinciding with the Lau Provincial Council meeting.

His produce impressed the organisers so well that he took the prize for his Philippine yams and the most heaviest yam.

Mr Vakatalai’s winnings included farming tools like, weeding knives, digging fork, spades and a wheelbarrow.

Other ventures

If this wasn’t enough, Mr Vakatalai has planted more than 500 uvi mounts as witnessed by the visiting team from the Ministry of Agriculture.

According to him, because of the number of traditional obligations in the village and as the eldest in the family, he spent most of his time in his farm in order to meet the needs for his family and the vanua.

Mr Vakatalai has expanded his subsistence farming to do commercial fishing.

He owns a fiberglass boat so he can fish to earn some money for a living.

The Ministry of Fisheries has also endorsed his inshore fishing licence.

He also received fishing material assistance thanks to the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation assistance to expand his venture into the sea.

Challenges

And while things seem steady for him, the issue of theft keeps coming up in village. He hopes the relevant authorities can curb this.

The Waciwaci Village former inmate has successfully started a new life and with the support of his family the ex-offender is now a redeemed person. Edited by Ranoba Baoa

Feedback: maikab@fijisun.com.fj

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