Tuesday, May 6, 2008


CARE giving is not an easy job because it takes a lot of willingness, love and care to look after the elderly.
To be able to share her knowledge on nursing and care giving is fulfilling for Sofaia Buli Katia.
Sofaia, 62, is the operations manager for Care Giver Services International (Fiji).
She was born with the passion and heart for helping others in Suva. The eldest of five children, Sofaia is from Qalikarua Village, Matuku in Lau.
Her parents were Temo and Senimili Bola. Her father was an accountant with the Ministry of Health and her mother a nurse at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital.
Following in her parent's footsteps by working for the betterment of the nation, Sofaia was always interested in teaching Home Science.
"I grew up in Charles Street, Toorak before we moved to the Draiba government quarters in Nasese." she says.
"I wanted to be a teacher but as I grew up, I wanted to be a nurse. I found nursing good and I enjoy helping other people, especially the elderly and sick.
"I remember looking after my young siblings and sometimes I looked after my maternal grandparents at Nabudrau in Noco.
"I learned a lot of things such as how to allocate chores to my siblings and look after my grandparents."
Sofaia attended Annesley which is now Suva Methodist Primary then to Ballantine Memorial at Delainavesi and Dudley High in Toorak where she completed Form Five. In 1965, she entered nursing school. I was one of the few students chosen to study New Zealand nursing courses at Central Nursing School which is FSN now. I was happy about the opportunity and was very interested in nursing. However, our tutor was learning how to teach and I was interested in teaching too.
"I inquired about being a nurse educator. At that time, top nursing people thought I was going to leave nursing to join Nasinu Teachers College.
"When it was time for the tutors to go back to New Zealand, someone had to continue the program in Fiji and I was chosen to be an understudy to the tutor.
"It was hard because you have to teach student nurses and learn how to deal with people."
In 1968, she graduated as a New Zealand-trained nurse and did her internship at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital.
In 1969, when she was in her early 20s, she became a tutor at nursing school. It was difficult at first especially having to speak English all the time but she managed.
"I was transferred to Lautoka where I spent 18 months before returning to Suva.
"When I returned, I was asked to run the New Zealand nursing program with Rigieta Nadakuitavuki.
"In 1975, I completed a vocational teacher's certificate course at the University of the South Pacific.
"I also helped with lectures in anatomy for paramedics at nursing school in Suva and also helped teach in the same field at the Fiji School of Medicine. I got married in 1971 and in 1979 my husband obtained a scholarship to for his post-graduate studies in dentistry at Otago University in New Zealand.
"We left for NZ and came back in 1980 and moved to Lautoka where my husband was transferred and I went back to teaching at Lautoka Nursing School.
"When the school closed in 1987, I came back to FSN in Tamavua."
Through her hard work and perseverance, Sofaia became the matron in service at Lautoka Hospital in 1992.
In 1997, she completed her nursing degree at Sydney University. She retired from nursing in 2001 but did part-time work as a supervisor at CWM Hospital.
Sofaia was later asked to take charge of the Diploma in Children Services program at the Australia Pacific Tertiary Institute.
She later joined CSI in 2007 sharing her knowledge and experience in the field of care giving.
"There are a lot of things I want to share about care giving," she said.
"The word care giving is another word for nursing.
"Here at CSI, we teach about the ageing process and communication is very important.
"We teach people how to care for old people. Care giving is a stepping stone for other things in life.
"The important thing about care giving is showing love and care for people of all ages.
"It is about good personal care and is something I am happy and proud of doing," the mother-of-four said.

Adapted from Fijitimes Online