Fiji Time: 2:07 PM on Thursday 18 January

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Champion for youths

Chandra Fisi'iahi
Tuesday, April 18, 2017

"In life, we live not to be a carbon copy of someone else's life, but to fully embrace the uniqueness of one's self. Always stay true to your identity in every intersecting way you can identify yourself as."

This is what will radiate the most inner peace from within, believes Tamani Rarama.

Tamani, born and raised in Nausori, is the eldest of four siblings.

He attended Saivou District, Visama Primary and Vunimono Primary for his primary studies before attending Vunimono High and Sila Central High School for secondary education.

Tamani had a challenging childhood. His parents had separated when he and his siblings were growing up and as a result, they were asked to live with their uncle and aunt in the village.

Soon after, his mother Sereima Kidia took charge and since then he has lived with his mother with the help of maternal and paternal support in funding their education.

He still remembers selling jam in bottles that his mother made in order to put food on the table.

He also found it challenging growing up as a non-gender conforming person.

He always faced a lot of challenges with a lot of stigma, discrimination and bullying.

"I believe that people lack the knowledge and understanding to fully comprehend the diversity of sexuality and gender.

"We are often boxed with this heteronormative learning that is shaped by so many factors not limited to our religion and culture."

Last year, Tamani lost his grandmother, Fulori Kidia, who he says was his biggest supporter.

Tamani cherishes all the memories he shared with his beloved grandmother and forever keeps her advice in his heart.

"I should be open to try out everything, and only then will I know what is good for me and what is bad," he shared of his favourite advice from his late grandmother.

"I had a very close relationship with my grandmother who I lost last year. I was also close to my mother and I am thankful for the both of them in my life," Tamani said.

Tamani works for World Health Organization as a special projects officer, and his work involves collaborating with the Ministry of Health's national mental health unit in organising and co-ordinating national programs and projects.

He believes he is a human rights defender with a passion in working to see the promotion and protection of human rights particularly for the marginalised community.

"I always volunteered my time to Rainbow Pride Foundation, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer non-government organisation," Tamani said

In 2014, Tamani was a member of the Youth Parliament of Fiji and tabled the issue of transparency, corruption and integrity with a linkage to young people in the country.

And in 2015, he graduated from the Emerging Leaders Forum, an initiative by the Fiji Women's Rights Movement for young emerging leaders.

"I have also presented young people's issues in national, regional and international spaces," he said.

"I have always loved working with young people because not only are they future leaders, but they have the potential to change the world to be what we would love it to be. This is on top of highlighting issues such as LGBTIQ rights, HIV and AIDS, climate justice, sexual reproductive health and rights," Tamani says.

"There is this greater belief in me that young people have so much in them to change the world we now live in.

"They are the innovators that will guide us through the new century."

The support he gets from his family, colleagues and friends, continues to guide and encourage him on a daily basis.

This, he said, was a motivating factor in his life and line of work.

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