Riagakepo and Gloria at The Lamana City back in better days.
Riagakepo and Gloria at The Lamana City back in better days.

Riagakepo Varage or simply known as Ricky was a character that stood out among the rest. He was a quiet, humble fellow who openly greeted everyone with a smile.  He was as friends described “a big man with a soft heart”. He was born in Alotau on the 15th of June 1975 and at about 7pm on Thursday 18th of August 2011, that humble man was called by God.

Ricky had been plagued with illness for a while but the cause was never correctly diagnosed until a few weeks ago when he was admitted to the Pacific International Hospital (PIH) in Boroko. He was diagnosed with liver cirrhosis, failure of the liver. Unfortunately, by then it was already into its final stages and too late for the doctors to do much. The only option available was a liver transplant.

The family then committed themselves to raising enough funds to send him to Australia. They knew the chances were bleak. First they had to raise the money and then he would have to wait for a donor to die but then he would also be queued up with a long list of patients. This would take time, something they knew was against them and around 7pm last Thursday it finally came to an end. Finally, Ricky’s pain was gone.

I met Ricky when I first started working for the Office of Higher Education (OHE) in 2007 and from then on he became like a big brother to me and most of the other new recruits. We have been through some exciting times especially during official parties and gatherings. On one such occasion I ended up in the police cells and another we almost traded blows, but that’s another story.

Anyway, Ricky left OHE to work for the Department of Education (DoE) in 2009 but he always had a strong emotional connection with the office. His wife is the Director General’s secretary and over the years he had become so close to the staff that he considered us family. The feeling was and still is mutual.

He leaves behind a young wife Rebecca (nee Moi) and three beautiful children; Nelson (Nelo), Eva and Larivita (Latika).

Rest in peace, my brother. We will always remember you.