Tongan Faith Leaders Take the Reigns


Taking the Reins was a new experience for me. Along with me was Katherine, a teenager from my church youth, my cousin Mele, Sina, Scott, and Alisi. We started off with meeting the chickens, ducks, and goats. We also took part in cleaning their areas, renewing their drinking water, and picking the eggs that the chickens had laid. It is a totally different morning routine than what I usually do. Then we walked around picking vegetables from the garden to cook for lunch. It amazed me how effortless it was to just pick veggies from your backyard, cook them, enjoy it, and it didn’t take much time either. As soon as we finished cleaning and cutting the vegetables, with just splashes of olive oil, it was done and very delicious. After lunch we made our way into the barn to meet the horses. It was great! We learned about their food, their health, and their routines. It was the closest I’ve ever been to a horse. I found it very therapeutic to clean and brush the horses hair because it’s like having “me” time with a horse whose all ears. Also, to see Katherine and Mele happy to be experiencing something different brought me joy. Hopefully we get a chance to go back and take more girls from my church youth. Thank you F.A.B. for a great experience.- Tutanga Tuihalamaka (Lennox United Methodist Church)



My experience with Taking the Reins was amazing.  It was a great example of showing us how everything we use can be reused for other things and doesn’t have to go to waste.  It showed me that animals can feel what we feel and that you can have a great bond with them.  The thought of holding a chicken was terrifying for me, but that day I couldn’t believe that I was able to hold one.  When we approached the goats, I was terrified as well. Entering their home, the first thing in mind was the goats were going to attack me, but I was wrong. They actually made us laugh by giving us a show of how great animals they are. During our lunch break I was able to sit and think about the greater things.  I thought about how wonderful it is to learn that the bad insects or bugs balances the good bugs.  We have both around to have a balance with mother nature.  I saw things differently that day.  I hope this program will be introduced to many more younger teens and I hope they learn a lot from this program. – Mele Kava (Siasi Tonga Tau’ataina)



Our day trip to Taking the Reins was very much needed and I would’ve never thought that it’s just right outside the city. I have to say I was nervous to be around horses because of how massive they are, but I was fascinated at the same time because there is something majestic about them. As Tutanga mentioned earlier, it was soothing to work with the horses and learn about their health. I was surprised at Katherine, who did not want to go near the chickens and goats, but was so calm around the horses. I’m anxious to go back some day and take more young girls!

It was amazing to share this with other great Tongan womyn and realize that this “exposure” to farming is somewhat new to us as first generation born and raised in America, but familiar to our roots that our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents planted seeds for many years ago. An interesting fact I took with me about the horses is that they are instinct animals and that they move together as a herd. It made me think of myself and how important instinct is for us as womyn, to own it and to nurture that part of ourselves. I thought of all the womyn I know that move with me in the work I do, in family, in our culture, in education, and in faith.

I was inspired by the garden full of herbs and vegetables to hopefully start my own garden at home some day. My mom grows pele, which is a green and is part of Tongan cuisine that she uses in her cooking every once in a while. I was reminded of what I have access to, especially in an environment that is more concerned about making profit at the cost of my community’s health. It’s a good feeling when you know where your food comes from and it’s why I feel it’s apart of my responsibility to help my community reclaim a concept that has already been built into us. – Sina Uipi

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