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Updated on February 2, 2016
Illness has been a stealth killer of many of our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and children. This can either continue to be our reality or we can create solutions for our families and our community…TOGETHER. The Faith Advisory Board (FAB) project was created to bring young leaders from our different churches together to create those solutions so that less of our loved ones are claimed by disease. We hope to foster a new wave of leaders in our Tongan community who can be faithful learners and teachers of wellness so a strong and healthy generation can rise up to live out the dreams of our parents. The FAB curriculum is rooted in Tongan culture and history while teaching a framework of health and wellness as the foundation of a thriving Tongan community in America.
There is an indescribable sense of mana felt when attending Potopoto ‘A Niu Mui FAB Sessions. Being of Samoan descent, I feel welcomed and embraced in that space by my Tongan kainga (community). Each session has been a mind-blowing experience that develops my critical thinking from a culturally relevant standpoint to my experience as a Pacific Islander-“American.” I love learning about different Pacific Islander cultures because it gives me a sense of identity, not just my Samoan culture, but all Pacific Islander cultures collectively. You can see our similarities outweigh our differences which unites us as commUNITY! This session was on Fonua (land), which demonstrated the perspective of Tongan ancestors and how they tauhi fonua (sustain the land to create harmony/beauty between the people and the land). This session impacted all of us in that space. Reflecting back on it, the structure of our session allowed for us to make the connection between the way our ancestors invested in and nurtured their fonua to how we treat the fonua our ancestors migrated to which we now consider “home.”
Thinking about it now, many of us, who weren’t born or even lived for an extended period of time in the islands, still have a deep connection to the land — spiritually and physically. Many of us long to go back, wonder what it was like, or wish we were more immersed in our cultures. Hence my participation in Potopoto ‘A Niu Mui.
In addition to making the connection and understanding of Fonua and it’s relevance to our outlook on the lands we now call home, our conversations were enriched by hearing from Melenaite and her recent journey back to Tonga to accompany her Dad for her uncle’s putu (funeral). You can feel the connection she made with her motherland, her connectedness through her vā (relationships) with family she’s never met, and the honor she felt fulfilling her customary responsibilities within her family. Through her experiences, you can feel how her trip back to Tonga gave her a stronger sense of identity that deepened her connection to her heritage, culture and FONUA!
Malo e ngaue Sina Uipi, ‘Alisi Tulua, Fifita Tutoe & Kulaea Falevai.
‘Ofa lahi atu kotoa,