Father finds joy in children's success
A father’s greatest joy is seeing his children succeed in life.
As the nation pauses to commemorate Father's Day, Salausa Dr. John Ah Ching, a doctor turned politician, told the Samoa Observer these are the words he lives by.
Salausa was born in a family of five siblings. Salausa, who is also the Associate Minister of Women, Community and Social Development, attained a scholarship to Fiji to pursue medical studies, after attending Marist Brothers Primary School and St. Joseph’s College.
“During the time I was in school, I could not decide whether to be a doctor or a priest," he said.
"All I had in my mind was that I wanted a career that dealt with people and helping them."
The 71-year-old from Tulaele added that he also considered being a teacher, while his father wanted him to take up accounting in New Zealand.
“The scholarship committee accepted me to be a doctor in Fiji,” he said. “At first, I did not know whether this was the right decision, then I spoke to our priest.
“He told me that both of these decisions were the same. A priest is the doctor of the spirit while the doctor caters to the physical side of our bodies, if the spirit weakens while the body is strong, a person is not complete.
“A person can only become whole when both the body and spirit are strong.”
He said the decision had proven to be the right one as he now loves being a doctor.
“But the job of being a doctor requires honesty and your full commitment, it’s for those who do not get tired easily,” he said.
“I believed having faith in God is very important because when I’m tired God will give me strength and he uses me as an instrument to do his work.”
After he graduated from Fiji in medical studies, he worked for 13 years in Samoa’s healthcare system, mostly stationed in Sataua, Savaii.
“In 1983, I went to do a postgraduate degree in New Zealand in that year I was bestowed the Salausa title but returned to being full time at Motootua hospital where I was also appointed chief of public health years later.
“I then left for American Samoa for contract work for so many years, returned in 2011 and part-timed at Motootua going out in the rural areas checking pregnant women and doing their ultrasound three times a week.
“In 2016, my village wanted me to run in the election but I got lucky and became a member of parliament and was appointed an Associate of Minister of Health but it was only last year we were switched to the Ministry of Women.”
He added that while children may be his main source of happiness it is not always an easy job to look after them, particularly with the demands of his job.
“If the mother does not have enough patience then it leads to problems; which is why I am thankful for my wife. I wanted a wife that loves caring for children like my mother. The story of how I met my wife was during the time I was a doctor, I was attracted to her by the way she cared for the sick child,” he said.
“I also pray to God every time I prepare to leave for work, I tell him that as I’m about to go do his work, to please look after my children and after all these years, they have grown up and live successful lives.”
Salausa said that his children included a registered doctor, nurse, accountant, architect, dentist and a graduate in political science degree.
“I only retired around 60 after caring for them,” he said.
“The most important gift to me is peace and harmony not only within my family but also the village and country.
“As a Samoan, we believe that children are a gift from God and since they were given to parents we have the responsibility of taking care of them well.”
He also added that he was sad to see some families struggling financially while caring for so many children.
“I am sad when I read the paper and see a family with so many children but they are financially unstable,” he said.
“I advise fathers to measure the number of children [he has] based on his ability to support them financially whether it is two or more so long as he can support them all throughout school, food, clothes and shoes.
“ If you can support 18 children then go ahead; a good example of that is the honourable Minister Sala Fata Pinati who has 18 children who are doctors, lawyers and businesses people. That shows that if you are financially stable then you can have as many as you can.
“It is important to care for our children well so that they can have a bright future.”