From Fijitimes Online (3 November 2009)

The day that changed Mamao

by Samantha Rina

MORE than a year after becoming the home superintendent, Mamao Fatiaki says his whole life changed; especially so his respect for the elderly citizens of the country.

When he was initially transferred to the Old People's Home in Lautoka, he had no idea what he was in for. He had no previous experience of working in an environment filled with elderly citizens who required special attention.

Born and bred in Fiji, Mr Fatiaki formerly worked at the Ministry of Health's west divisional office and was transferred to the Natabua Old People's Home in June last year.

He says he has never experienced such rewarding work than that which he now does.

"Coming here was a challenge especially when it meant dealing directly with senior citizens. My first month at the home changed my whole perspective on life," he said.

Mr Fatiaki related an experience which to this day, he says, is hard to forget.

It is one he will remember for the rest of his life.

"I was sitting in my office one morning and this was just after I started work here. There was a knock on the door and when I opened it, there was a man standing there with a plastic bag in his hand and he was crying," he said.

The sight, said Mr Fatiaki, gutted him and made him realise the extent of suffering the elderly face when they are turned away from home, have nowhere else to go and are practically left to fend for themselves.

Mr Fatiaki admits there are pros and cons of working with the elderly. He said the biggest challenge for him and the 18 staff who help in the running of the home is when a resident gets homesick.

"We work extra hard to try to make them feel at home and it is sad to see them go through this. Otherwise, the work is very rewarding and satisfying.

"I believe the most satisfying moment of the day is when I see a senior citizen smile or laugh."

Mr Fatiaki lives within the premises in a house provided by the home for him and his family.

The quarters also house a nurse who works at the home.

Despite his move to the home being considered an occupational transfer, Mr Fatiaki says he has realised that it is not just a job transfer but a calling which he was meant to heed.