Topou has been in prison since last year for a crime that had ripped his family apart.

He chopped off his elder brother’s right hand during a domestic quarrel.

His father John Tepala from then swore never to reunite and call Topou his son again.

“My stand after the incident and after he was sent to prison was for this boy to go on his own way and never be part of the family again,” Mr Tepala said during the reconciliation ceremony held yesterday.

...The father of 10 said he maintained his stance never to reconcile with his younger son Topou again.

“But in the past weeks after the continuous counselling and inspiring words from members of the Sycamore Tree Program, and with the assistance of the Correctional Service staff, I slowly come to my senses.

“Now, I’m inspired and convinced that the once unhealed wound that ripped the family apart can easily be healed through reconciliation and forgiveness,” the father said.

The reconciliation, which was the ninth facilitated by the Sycamore Tree Project* with the help of Prison staff for prisoners, was held at the King Solomon Hotel.

The program pulled the family who vowed not to see their son again, to stand face-to-face with him under the watchful eyes of prison staff, Sycamore Tree project members and others who witness shedding of tears and hugging after the father declared Topou his son again and that he (Topou) is welcomed back into the family.

 Jailed as he is still, but Topou has been truly freed.

“You may remain in prison to complete your term under the laws of the land, but before the tribunal of heaven, your family and God himself, you are acquitted,” Pr Nemuel Laufilu who normally facilitates the programme, said.

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*In general, the Sycamore Tree Project® brings together unrelated victims and prisoners (not direct victims and prisoners) to explore the impact of crime and more positive responses. The meeting of direct victims and offenders is an adaptation made by Prison Fellowship Solomon Islands in response to needs in the country.