Honesty is the best policy for Lealaiauloto
"No matter what kind of job you have, do it with an honest heart."
The phrase may sound simple to many, but it has guided Lealaiauloto Aitauia Asoiva throughout the two decades of his service within the Ministry of Health.
Last week, he was acknowledged for his service in public health especially, in spearheading a lot of health programmes on the big island of Savai'i.
The 46-year-old is a true believer that being honest in all that you do and making good use of every opportunity you get will pay off in the long run.
Lealaiauloto was among those who were recognised for working in the ministry for 20 years and more at the conclusion of the National Health Week and Annual Health Forum last week.
Humbled by the recognition of his service and dedication he immediately credited the milestone and his journey to God.
"I would not have made it this far if it weren't for God," Lealaiauloto said.
"Nothing in life comes easily; but if you trust in God and put your faith in him, he will carry you through anything and everything. I owe this accomplishment to him."
He then took a trip down memory lane, reflecting on his younger years as a newbie in the ministry.
"Like anybody else, you don't automatically get to the top when you start off," Lealaiauloto said.
"I was an office boy and I remember being so keen to run errands and it was very satisfying for me to know that I was of good use and that my service made an impact in Samoa.
"I remember when I was placed in the administration division where I worked in the unit that handled all the requests and paperwork for patients that needed urgent medical treatment overseas.
"I loved running around sorting the paperwork, from getting the approval from Cabinet to rushing off to the airline to get tickets and bookings done, right up until we see the patients and their families off at the airport."
Lealaiauloto said he did not start off on a high salary either.
"But back in the days, earning $200 to $300 fortnightly was a lot of money because things were a lot cheaper back then and we appreciated whatever money we had back then.
"For me, I look back now and think that a lot of newbies nowadays are lucky that they start off with over $20,000 per annum, but I'm still grateful for the journey and how far I've come along."
He became well-known when he was placed in the public health division and was part of the community outreach team to raise awareness on how to live a healthy life.
"I think a lot of people remember me from the exercising daily programmes we ran back in the days. Then we took it out to the community and advertised it on television to encourage people to be active and exercise daily.
"It was tough at first when we introduced the initiative because of our culture and way of life. I remember when we first had our awareness programmes and introduced our exercise routines, women turned up wearing puletasi and long dresses.
"I mean we understood it was frowned upon for them to wear tights and pants when exercising out in public places. So we had a lot of work to do so we can eliminate such mentality."
For Lealaiauloto, he knew he had to come up with a strong approach to push through the message and to convince people to normalise exercising in groups and in public places.
"We now see a lot of Zumba sessions around the country and also on national television, which is a great thing, but when we first started, it was difficult.
"So we had to bring in our sense of humour and I guess for me, our Samoan oratory really helped us in getting the message across to our people.
"I became famous because of those awareness and the language I used to push through our messages not only in Apia but also in the big island.
"For me, I am always passionate about development of health in Savai'i. So, at a time where I was still new, I tried my best to be of help even if it was just delivering mails, resources, payslips and documents to our healthworkers in Savai'i.
"Back in the days when I first started, technology was not that advanced and I always offered to deliver whatever was needed to be taken to Savai'i then make the trip back to Upolu the following week."
Lealaiauloto said he reflects on these memories with a grateful heart and commended the dedication of everyone working in the health system.
"It's not an easy profession," he added.
"But nothing in this life comes easily. You have to work hard and dedicate your best to serve your people in any capacity. We need to make good use of whatever opportunities we get in life and stay true to our calling.
"It does not matter if you are just an office boy, or someone who works in the management of an organisation.
"Whatever your calling is, being honest and staying true to your values and virtues will lead you to great things ahead. Be patient and do everything with a grateful heart and with a smile."
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