Joy turns into sorrow

Seniloli Tabuatausole Rakai (Insert) Picture: SUPPLIED

IMANUELI Rakai celebrated one of the most significant moments of his life on Saturday when he turned 21.

That moment of happiness turned into despair hours later when his mum received a call on Sunday from the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) informing her of her husband’s passing.

Seniloli Tabuatausole Rakai died after the vehicle he was travelling in was hit by a car bomb (vehicle-borne improvised explosive device) in the Libyan city of Benghazi on Saturday.

Three UN staff members were killed including Mr Rakai, who was a former member of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces and is one of three Fijians serving in UNSMIL.

UNSMIL is an integrated special political mission which was established in September 16, 2011 by UN Security Council Resolution 2009 (2011).

Mr Imanueli spoke to his dad on Saturday and said their last conversation was one of the many conversations he would remember for a long time.

“We were like friends more than just a son and father. He was somebody I looked up to and someone I sought counsel from,” Mr Imanueli said.

Mr Rakai’s wife, Mere Finau, said her husband would call three times a day just to ensure that his family was well.

Returning from church on Saturday night, Ms Finau spoke to her husband and updated him about the latest happenings at home.

At times Ms Finau said her husband would share to her about the gravity of his work and the fact that it was a risky one.

Throughout the conversation Ms Finau said her husband sounded happy and spoke to his son who turned 21 on Saturday.

The Suvavou native made the last routine call about 11pm to speak to their youngest daughter and wife.

Meanwhile, Fiji’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York Dr Satyendra Prasad described Mr Rakai as a proud Fijian who lived and gave the ultimate sacrifice in upholding the tradition of supporting the UN to operate in some of the most difficult regions of the world.

Mr Rakai is survived by his wife and five children who reside at Vugalei, Suvavou.

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