A bid to ensure prisoners return to the community better people after they have served their terms received a tremendous boost yesterday.
It did with the launch of a Sewing and Music Project at Tafa’igata Prison.
The sewing equipment - including 10 sewing machines - was funded by the government of New Zealand through the New Zealand High Commission.
Three of six keyboards for the music programme were funded by two Australian students volunteering at the site, Megan Hilly and Fuapepe Seiuli and the Ministry of Prisons and Corrections Services (M.P.C.S).
The Minister of Justice and Courts Administration, Fa’aolesa Ainu’u Katopau, Minister of Prisons, Tialavea Tionisoo Hunt as well as the Associate Minister of Prisons, Sooalo Mene, were present.
In launching the initiative, Minister Tialavea said the project is a positive step towards rehabilitating prisoners so that not only do they serve their terms but are able to leave the prison with some skills they can use to contribute to the development of the community.
The idea, according to the Minister, is that they are able to find work, which will allow them to give back to their families and villages.
Tialavea described the launch yesterday as historical.
“We have initiated this sewing and musical programme to provide further option for offenders so that after serving their time in prison, they can contribute like any other citizen to the socio-political economy of Samoa in a positive way,” he said.
Assistant Commissioner of Prisons, Ulugia Aumua, said the project holds tremendous potential for prisoners.
“The main purpose of this project is to help the offenders,” said Ulugia.
“And if these projects do become successful, we can then look at ways to get money as well from this project.
“In the meantime, the sole focuss is on prisoners in here.”
Acting New Zealand High Commissioner, Verity Smith, said they are delighted to have been able to help.
She expressed the hope that the tools would be used to bring about positive changes in the lives of prisoners.