3 Tisema Tuesite
Dimity and Sandy had a last massage session with magic Mike and his dad Leo before getting on their flight home. We dropped our three guests safely to the airport in the school van and headed home for a siesta.
Sadly one of the teacher’s (Evamoni) mum died on the weekend so staff and students gathered at school and headed to where his family was staying to deliver our condolences, beautiful handmade fresh floral wreaths/arrangements (made by students and teachers) a quilt, tapa and envelopes of donations to help with the funeral expenses that can put so much financial stress on families.
We all wore the customary black and funerary ta’ovalas (mats) and traveled in a little convoy to his sister’s residence.
It was very sobering to learn that Moni’s mum was due to fly to New Zealand for treatment on Thursday having been waiting for a visa which finally came through. We have so much to be grateful for in Australia with our access to services, especially health and should NEVER become complacent to this privilege.
4 Tisema Pulelulu
Kotoni and I pottered in town lingering over a coffee at the post office cafe before heading to ‘Ahopanilolo for a couple of hours. We returned at 3.30pm for the funerary follow-up… a police escorted motorcade from the hospital mortuary, through town to the wharf. Moni’s family is from the northern island group of Vava’u and the family were traveling with his Mum on the ferry to take her home. The final local funeral ceremony will be on Saturday.
Tongan culture has strong customs surrounding death, funerals and grieving. There is something to be said for these well established rituals. So often we in the West do not know what to do or how to support those mourning the loss of a loved one. Here it is quite clear and public. The lead up to the funeral is held over a number of days allowing time for family members to assemble and everyone to pat their respects with personal visits to the family’s home. You don specific clothes, take gifts and monetary offerings to the family and the grief is shared in a very community-supported way with prayers and heart-felt words delivered by ‘talking chiefs’ who represent communities, individuals and groups known to family members. This show of support is gratefully acknowledged by the family and we were glad we could be part of this support team to our colleague Moni.