Back at home – Lote gives up diplomatic career for ill mum

Lote Raboila says he is happy to be at home with his mum. Picture: SUPPLIED

Renowned American author Tia Walker once said ‘To care for those who once cared for us is one of the highest honours’.

Her words would best describe Lote Raboila’s journey.

He gave up a promising diplomatic career, including rubbing shoulders with international leaders, to return home to care for his elderly, bedridden mother.

“There were a few reasons that made me choose to return home, but the first and foremost was my mum,” he said.

“My 79-year-old mother, who hails from Delakado, Dawasamu in Tailevu, suffered a stroke in 2005 and has been bed-ridden ever since, whereas my father passed away in 2014 after suffering a stroke in 2006.”

Lote said everything he had achieved in life — from academia to his rise through the ranks of the civil service — was made possible through his upbringing and the values instilled in him by his parents.

“I wouldn’t be the man I am today if it wasn’t for them.”

“My dad was a dock worker with the then Ports Authority of Fiji and my mother worked hard to raise me.”

“In 1994, I was in Class 5 when my dad retired and from then on he worked part-time to support us.”

He said despite their very challenging financial situation, through sheer hard work his parents were able to provide him a good education at Holy Trinity Anglican School and later Marist Brothers High School.

“I completed high school in 2001 before pursuing tertiary education at the University of the South Pacific (USP) where I graduated in 2005 with a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in History and Politics.”

Lote said seeing his father take on physically-taxing work for very low pay, such as working for a farmer from 8am to 5pm for $5 a day, spurred him to strive hard with his studies.

“When I was in secondary school, while my peers were enjoying afternoon sports, I would be with my parents, scavenging the Tamavua-i-wai river for fish, shrimp and firewood to support our family.”

His first job after graduating from USP was cleaning rooftops for $15 a day in 2005 and the following year, he served a 14-week stint teaching History and Geography at Nabua Secondary School.

“In 2006, I served in the Prime Minister’s Media Unit and the following year, I was seconded to the Technical and Support Secretariat (TASS) to the National Council for Building a Better Fiji.

“I resigned in 2012 to join the Fiji Development Bank (FDB) as a media and community relations officer.”

The father of three said the highlight of his career came in 2016, where within the same year he joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he was appointed as Second Secretary to the Fiji High Commission in Canberra, Australia.

“I served in this role from 2017 until last year.”

“I have been to places where I never thought possible, rubbed shoulders with presidents, chatted with prime ministers and dined with governors.”

“This was possible because my parents didn’t see their circumstances as an excuse not to provide the best education that they possibly could.” Early this year, Lote and his wife made the decision for their family to return home from Canberra.

“Every year, we would return to Fiji to celebrate Christmas and New Year with my mother as she will be turning 80 this year.”

“Giving her at least one reason to smile every year is worth crossing the ocean for.”

“I’m thankful for my wife’s support to allow me to return home every year and also, since both my in-laws are still alive and here in Fiji, it made it easier for my wife to want to return.”

Now working at the Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources, under the Land Use Division, Lote counts himself blessed to be able to give back to his mother, who has nurtured and raised him.

“I saw the hardship that we were facing and I vowed before God that I will graduate and help my family. I did just!”

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