FOR­MER IN­MATE SUC­CESS­FULLY AD­JUSTS TO LIFE O UTSIDE PRI­SON

Re­ha­bil­i­tated af­ter eight years, Daswa Nand Sharma has a job af­ter be­ing taken in by for­mer Corrections of­fi­cer.

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Af­ter over eight years be­hind bars, 30-year old Daswa Nand Sharma wasn’t sure he wanted to leave. Not only were there strong bonds forged with new­found brothers in­side the Nas­inu Corrections fa­cil­ity making it dif­fi­cult for him to leave, but the harsh re­al­ity was that Mr Sharma had nowhere to go.

He strug­gled to read­just to a life out­side the pri­son walls and tried to come to terms with his fam­ily’s re­jec­tion.

“I lived with an un­cle for a while af­ter be­ing re­leased, but that didn’t turn out so well,” he said.

“I found my­self spend­ing a few nights at a Po­lice sta­tion; there was nowhere else to go. I called the for­mer OC Nas­inu (of­fi­cer-in-charge of the Nas­inu Corrections Cen­tre) and told him what hap­pened.” For­tu­nately for Mr Sharma, Apete Tavo wel­comed him into his abode which is the place he calls home to­day. A fit of rage more than eight years ago sparked Mr Sharma’s at­tack on a ten­ant following a dis­pute over rent. That in­ci­dent re­sulted in Mr Sharma be­ing charged with, tried for and con­victed of at­tempted mur­der. He was sen­tenced to 11 years im­pris­on­ment, but this was re­duced, mainly be­cause of his good be­hav­iour.

“I re­gret what I did that day. I can­not turn back time, but through the pro­grammes, sup­port and en­cour­age­ment dur­ing my term be­hind bars, I have been re­formed. It was also in pri­son that I came to know God and was bap­tised. “I have learnt that true change can only be suc­cess­ful when we take a spir­i­tual ap­proach,” he said. “I hope to ap­proach that per­son (vic­tim) one day and ask for for­give­ness.” Un­der a job place­ment pro­gramme, Mr Sharma was re­leased early in Novem­ber 2015 and was of­fered em­ploy­ment with Starest Fur­ni­ture and Join­ery Ltd in Nas­inu. “I spent more than eight years in pri­son. I have gone through many re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­grammes — pro­grammes that bring about spir­i­tual change, that help us deal with drugs and al­co­hol abuse and anger man­age­ment.” Mr Sharma says he has also for­given his fam­ily for re­ject­ing him. “We shouldn’t lose hope. We make a mis­take and we learn from it. The fu­ture is ahead of us, we need to look ahead,” he said. It has been six months now since Mr Sharma moved into Mr Tavo’s home.

“Read­just­ing be­tween pri­son life and life out­side isn’t easy. When we were in­side, our meals, bed­time and wakeup time were dis­ci­plined and strict. When we’re re­leased, we have to ad­just to the way so­ci­ety lives and that’s also hard and takes some get­ting used to,” he said. “But we have to change. “We have to try. I have learnt that anger lasts for a sec­ond or minute, we need to think twice be­fore act­ing. “We have to change our­selves and the best way to make that hap­pen is through a spir­i­tual awak­en­ing.” Mr Sharma has been work­ing un­der the su­per­vi­sion of Mo­hammed Zanif, the fore­man of the fit­ting sec­tion at Starest Fur­ni­ture and Join­ery Ltd.

Mr Zanif said: “He is a fast learner, punc­tual, obe­di­ent and over­all, a hard worker. Sharma de­serves a sec­ond chance like ev­ery­one else who is im­pris­oned for their mis­takes.

“They are very ca­pa­ble of re­set­tling into life but it is up to us, so­ci­ety, to give them that chance,”

I re­gret what I did that day. I can­not turn back time, but through the pro­grammes, sup­port and en­cour­age­ment dur­ing my term be­hind bars, I have been re­formed. It was also in pri­son that I came to know God and was bap­tised.

Daswa Nand Sharma

For­mer corrections in­mate

Daswa Nand Sharma (right), hard at work at Starest Fur­ni­ture and Join­ery Ltd. Photo: Fiji Corrections Ser­vice

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