Friday, August 29, 2008


A healthy life is a happy life and 59-year old Raubane Kirimaua has a goal to help people understand the benefits that come from a healthy lifestyle. Raubane is the president of Pasifika Health Reform Ministry, a non-profit cooperation promoting better health amongst Pacific islanders.

Based in Honolulu, Hawaii, Raubane said the aim of the cooperation is based on scientific and biblical guidelines. While he may be a certified secondary school teacher with two Masters' degrees, Raubane did not live a life of riches and fame.

Born and bred on the island of Abemama, Kiribati, Raubane is sixth in a family of eight children. His father Raubane Tobinabina was a magistrate while his mother Tekua Kirimaua was a housewife. Growing up on the island, Raubane never really thought about what he wanted to be when he was younger.

He did not even think he would ever leave the island and this was because the opportunities were very limited.

"Life on the island was very rural. I remember collecting just enough coconuts and firewood for the family. "Basically, we used what we needed. My parents were very staunch Seventh Day Adventists," he said. "My father was advanced in his education and he pushed us to get a good education but to move on to the next level was up to us.

"I did not think about what I wanted to do in life. I was like any other kid, just floating around, going with the wind." He attended SDA kindergarten before completing his primary education at Kauma SDA School.

There were no SDA secondary schools at the time so he came to Fiji to complete his secondary school at Fulton College in Tailevu. His first time to Fiji and away from Abemama Island, Raubane was very excited about the experience especially the fact it was away from home.

Raubane completed the Fiji Junior Certificate exam and went on to finish the New Zealand School Certificate exam. At the same time, he managed to graduate from Fulton College with a diploma in secondary school teaching majoring in mathematics and science.

"Boarding life at Fulton was an eye-opener especially when life was away from home. I was very excited but at the same time I learned a lot about being independent. "I had to wash my own clothes because my mother was not there but then again it taught me how to be responsible.
"After Fulton College, I continued my studies at the University of the South Pacific majoring in geography and demography from 1973 to 1976.

"I later taught at SDA mission secondary schools in Fiji including Navesau in Wainibuka and Beulah College in Tonga." He applied to join the East West Centre in Hawaii and worked for the government teaching at an all-boys high school. Things turned out for the better and he was sponsored by the centre to complete a Masters degree at the University of Hawaii.

Raubane first majored in Geography and later switched to public health after a physician relative persuaded him to help the public health department in Kiribati. "I worked for a while with the Kiribati Health Ministry and was later posted to Sopas hospital in the interior of Papua New Guinea.

"This is where I picked up and realised the needs of the people. Some people are illiterate and not well educated about chronic diseases. "It is important for people to understand the kind of food they are eating and the health benefits."

After attaining his doctorate in public health from Loma Linda University in California, Raubane headed a health van clinic moving around the city of San Francisco to do cholesterol checks and other medical checkups. Apart from that, Raubane does regular exercise and as best he can tries to encourage people to stick to local and organic foods.

"It is important for people to maintain natural remedy. Taking up this profession in promoting good health is very satisfying because you will not run out of patients."

To be able to help people live a healthier, happy life is something Raubane finds fulfilling about his profession in public health.
Adapted from Fijitimes Online