The Minister, Senior Executive Management and staff of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS), National Referral Hospital, Health Donor Partners and the Media Association of Solomon Islands (MASI) on Friday 23rd paid their final respect to their fellow colleague and friend, Late Atenia Eribania Tahu at the Wesley United Church.
Delivering his farewell remarks Health Minister Hon. Dr Culwick Togamana said this is perhaps one of the hardest things, he believed that he have ever had to do.
“But today Ate would have been honoured and humbled by the love of all his family, relatives, colleagues and friends in this church today that are here to pay their final respect and tribute to Mr Atenia Tahu’s life”, said Dr Togamana.
The Health Minister uttered the number of people who were present to pay their last respect is only a testament to the lives Late Ate personally touched and connected with.
“We are gathered here today in memory of our dear colleague Atenia Eribania Tahu, who we normally refer to as Ate and I will refer to him as Ate in my brief remarks”.
“Atenia in Marovo language is “Mi save” and yes indeed hem save. A happy go lucky young man at a very tender age of his career, who had so much energy and drive to be the perfectionist media specialist as could be. And who had a huge potential in his profession in “communication for health” in the country to the extent that his capacity was recognised regional and globally”, said Dr Togamana.
He added a life so young and gone too soon. He had a long life ahead of him. Indeed, he was one of the finest young men in his profession.
“While we mourn the loss of a colleague, we pay tribute and celebrate a life that was well lived”, said Dr Togamana.
Ate started working in 2020 for the MHMS, the same year Dr Togamana taken up his role as the Health Minister.
“Unknowingly, Ate came at the right time as communication and media was at the forefront of information amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Dissemination of accurate and evidence based information, counteracting criticisms, misinformation and unfounded rumours, managing public perceptions, organizing Talk Back Shows, drafting speeches and statements for the Executive, drafting Press Releases for the Ministry, but most importantly developing the Communication for Health Strategic Framework and Plan for the Ministry. This was his last work on his radar until his passing just before midnight on the 17th June 2023. His immense contribution made the Ministry more visible and positioned the Ministry in a right place. The MHMS Communication Unit was the trend setter and became the trigger for some of our partner Ministries in turn to set up their communication units”, said Dr Togamana.
He added not many leave behind a legacy of such dedication and accomplishment but Ate did and made an impact. He made a mark for himself. He was so good at his job.
Dr Togamana described Ate was committed to his work focused on improving media and communication for health. He was passionate about his work and had that drive to connect with anyone and everyone. He was indeed a transformational media specialist and someone who drives for change in the media sector who had great dreams of what better media could be and could do better, maintaining accountability and core ethical values in the profession. He had a gift of innovative thinking, a free spirit with no qualms attitude, and the persistent patience required to successfully lead meaningful outcomes.
“It was a privilege for my Ministry to have been a part of Atenia’s life, for just over 3 years. Although much too short, his, was a life well lived! He was a determined, visionary, collaborative, goal-oriented, caring person who loved life and all that it offered. Through both his dedication, commitment of practice, he made a significant contribution to the Ministry of Health and Medical Service as well as that of our development partners. His public recognitions reveal that his, was a distinguished career of considerable import to the region and global, and had a successful life ahead of him!” said Dr Togamana.
He added Ate’s contributions were powerful and his work ethic more than remarkable…. Energy, commitment, integrity are all words that begin to capture my image of Ate and hoped that we had many more like him. But he was one of kind and will be sorely missed as a colleague, brother and friend.
“In addition to his devotion to his work and to the improvement of the media in the health sector, Ate always found time for his colleagues, his media friends, and his family, his parents, his wife Bezel, and their four young children. Having worked and travelled with Atenia over the last couple of years, I learned a great deal about his love for his family. They were never far from his thoughts. He kept in regular contact with them when he was away from home.
“Ate–a caring and beloved family man, a cherished colleague, a brother and friend–will be missed by many, but never will he be forgotten by those who were fortunate enough to have known him! He will always be in our Hearts
“Death reminds us that our lives on earth are fleeting and transient. But we are reminded in Psalms 90: 12 to “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom”
“Ate, our dear colleague, our friend, our brother and our son, may you rest in eternal peace until the glorious resurrection morning”, Dr Togamana said.