Sunday, September 9, 2007


It is hard to believe that Sevuloni Rokomatu Ratu is the mentor for hundreds of Red Cross Fiji volunteers.
Ratu, 21, is the HIV/AIDS program team leader and a source of inspiration and motivation for thousands of youths.
His job is to help them grasp the hard facts of life and to live responsibly.
Providing young people with the right guidance and correct information may be a difficult task for some but not for him.
Being able to do something for people is what gives him the greatest satisfaction.
He is handling a two-week HIV/AIDS awareness workshop at Red Cross in Suva where 22 participants from five branches are being trained.
The trained participants carry awareness work.
Ratu hails from Lawaki Village, Vuda, outside Lautoka.
After completing his high school studies at Vishnu Deo Secondary School, Ratu was in search of a job where he could help out people.
"When I was young I always had the passion to help people," he said.
"When I grew up, I was looking for a job that reflected this passion.
"It was a little hard to find such a job in the beginning."
That changed after he acquired formal skills.
In 2004, he did a one-year course in business and secretarial studies at the City Education Institute and a six-week course in computing with the New Zealand Pacific Training Centre.
Ratu was confused about where to go and finally decided to join the Red Cross Lautoka branch towards the end of 2004.
"When I joined the Red Cross, I felt I had come to the right place. I never looked to find another job since. I was only 18 years old then but I knew there was so much I could do," he said
"I did not know about Red Cross in depth but I knew it helped out people in need and those with problems so I was willing to take up that challenge," he said. Ratu started off as a health and welfare program officer.
"My focus was to care for people with disabilities and running sessions for people with lifestyle disease.
"I used to go around schools with other colleagues doing puppet shows and teaching students about HIV/AIDS, drugs, alcohol and lifestyle diseases.
"Joining the Red Cross was a boost to my career and finally I felt I was settled.
"I knew I was engaged in doing something that contributes to the society," he said.
Ratu was later promoted as the master peer educator on HIV/AIDS.
"My role here was to go out to the rural areas in Lautoka and let people know about HIV/AIDS," he said.
For some of us going out to the community and preaching about a topic seen as taboo can be pretty difficult but not for Ratu because that was what he wanted to do from the start.
He was called to the Suva branch in March as the HIV/AIDS program team leader and required to monitor all HIV/AIDS projects run in Fiji.
"I have to keep track with what's happening in all the 14 branches and see the implementation of all our programs with feedback on progress," he said.
The biggest challenge for Ratu was working with different communities but he has learnt to overcome that.
What triggers Ratu to get going is one of the seven principles of Red Cross.
"One of our principles says no to discrimination on race, gender and religion. We have to stay neutral and this is what gets me going and made me overcome many barriers that came my way.
"I enjoy what I do because I know I am passionate about it."

Adapted from Fijtimes Online