Empowering inmates to make a positive difference

The Alternatives to Violence Programme (A.V.P.) workshop has ended.

A first of its kind in Samoa, the three-day workshop provides 25 prisoners at Tafa’igata the help to better use self-directive learning to develop positive change, self-esteem, conflict resolution and community building. 

It was led by Nonu Ueni Fonoti, who graduated from being an A.V.P. facilitator while incarcerated in California. 

A.V.P. is founded on the principles that each person has power for good and potential to transform conflict, in each situation there are non-violent alternatives to violent responses to conflict and each person has the option to choose a response to each experience of conflict.

According to a press release, the key features of A.V.P. workshop are voluntarism, teamwork, diversity, and a safe learning environment.

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“Such a venue will help to instill within the returnees the sense of ownership and belonging that is presently void. The end result is the empowerment of the returnees. 

“Empowerment will help them to overcome the negative effects of deportation, particularly the evasion of at risk situations,” the press statement.

Mr. Fonoti believes as males, who’ve come through the cycle of crime, violence, dysfunction, rehabilitation and rebuilding, and who’ve developed a sound understanding of how males respond to all these experiences, the returnees have tremendous leverage to mobilise men in Samoa in the fight against violence and crime. 

“I see the potential of A.V.P. in bringing about positive and sustainable change for the returnee community by helping to mitigate the challenges of social disconnectedness and isolation,” he said. 

“These are challenges brought on by stigma, poor language or cultural bearings and lack of familiarity, and which often lead many returnees back to harmful habits. 

“Through the assistance of the A.V.P., I hope that the returnees will be able to develop a stronger sense of ownership by having a programme that they can latch on to and that will deflect them from the cycle of recidivism.

“We can also build A.V.P. as a venue for sectoral collaboration to adapt A.V.P. where necessary to the local context and to ensure that it builds off existing strengths and resources.”

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