U.S. Peace Corps Celebrates 50 Years In Tonga

Princess Pilolevu Tuita honors sacrifices of volunteers

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Oct. 4, 2017) – The United States Peace Corps marked its 50th anniversary of service in Tonga, on October 2 with the unveiling of a plaque by Princess Pilolevu Tuita and parade in Nuku’alofa.

The Princess said the Peace Corps is a unique program with people-to-people empowerment, built to respect our differences, diversity and cultural uniqueness.

She acknowledged the personal sacrifice that Peace Corps volunteers make, leaving behind the comfort of their homes and the conveniences of modern life, to work with those less fortunate, and to positively contribute to our people and development.

"You bring enthusiasm with you and willingness to live in the same environment of the people you work with.. and to share with us your experience and knowledge."

Prime Minister Hon 'Akilisi Pohiva said everyone who had been associated with Peace Corps had great memories of their adventures and achievements in Tonga, and some volunteers had not only served our people but also formed friendships and made a difference in our lives.

He said over 50 years Tonga had been blessed with more than 1,600 volunteers who have demonstrated ingenuity and creativity to solve critical challenges alongside our local community leaders.

"I wish to extend the sincere gratitude of the government and people of Tonga to the Government of the United States of America for the valuable contribution and efforts of the Peace Corps program to our development."

Friendship

U.S. Ambassador Judith Cefkin said this was also a celebration of the special friendship and partnership that they have with the people of Tonga.

"Peace Corps volunteers are often referred to as 'kau ngaue‘ofa', people who work for love, so well described what the Peace Corps mission is all about."

She said their first group of 15 volunteers arrived in Tonga in October 1967. But the numbers quickly grew, and in the 50 years since that time the Peace Corps co-operation between the United States and the Kingdom of Tonga had blossomed.

She said that what had made the Peace Corps so unique and successful is that the volunteers have lived in the communities in which they work, usually for two years or more, and became trusted members of these communities. During this time, they have developed friendships and shared experiences with their colleagues, and passed on new skills and they, in turn have learned from the Tongan members of their adopted communities, she said.

Current and former volunteers, paraded in Nuku'alofa with school children, teachers, local staff, parents and others.

Matangi Tonga Magazine
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