16 Novema Tokanacki
Radiothon day dawning sunny and with an early 7.30am kick off. This is a common fundraising project and involves setting up a banner describing the reason for the fundraiser and paying a local radio station to set up an outside broadcast ‘station’ with designated collection points at scattered locations in central Nuku’alofa. The students then stand in school uniforms on the corners of the strategic intersection with cardboard boxes which drivers and pedestrians duly drop in notes and coins.
Music blares and donations are acknowledged by the MC for the day who is usually someone who knows lots of people so they can be named on radio. If not known then car registration plates are broadcast wherever possible. It is quite a cacophony of sound.
Our site had the added noise of a 20+ White and gold costumed christian singing dancing troupe blaring their message from a vacant allotment across the road. The Police told them to tone it down a few times as we had pre-booked the activity and had all our paperwork in order (I know this because I drafted all the letters!). However, with Religion enshrined in the constitution it is near impossible to deny people the opportunity to worship as we are discovering with our next door neighbour church dilemma.
The event ended quite dramatically at 1.30pm with a Tonga High student being pursued by a band of youth from a rival school gang. The police were called and those involved were bundled into the back of a ute and taken away. This rivalry is a big problem in Tonga and earlier in the year blew up with over 100 students being arrested and one ending up in a coma. On Friday nights we often see students on special patrols with police in a bid to stop this nastiness on what is a primarily a very safe place to be day or night.
17 Novema Sapate
Had a lovely dinner at another volunteer house. Tajeen’s parents are originally from Bangladesh so we had some yummy typical street food, fish and a frozen watermelon granita.