Coming Home: Tonga

Tonga | Natalie Somerville

Home: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

 

Photo: Mangrove forest, Tonga. Photo courtesy Natalie Somerville.

 

Mālō ‘etau lava. Ko Navi au. Na’a ku nofo i Tonga. On the beautiful island of ‘Eua, where I was serving as a Volunteer, I’m known as Navi. When we were evacuated, here’s what I left behind: coconut trees, fresh papaya every day, a group of women who had just committed to practicing healthy lifestyles, my best friend and dog (Navi Kiti), and an adoring, patient partner, with deep love, whom I can’t wait to reunite with. I left behind a vegetable garden that was beginning to sprout, children who smile with their all, and people who laugh from their core. I left behind the clearest night sky I’ve ever seen, and a mat to lay down upon while I stare at the Milky Way. 

 

 

I left behind the clearest night sky I’ve ever seen, and a mat to lay down upon while I stare at the Milky Way. 

 

Here’s the unfinished business I’d like you to know about: Practicing healthy living with the Tongans is crucial because the biggest killers out there are preventable. Diabetes and heart disease can be lessened with movement and strengthening of the mind. I want to continue working with the people to extend their happy lives. There is also a group of artists who came to the island I lived on to do a workshop with my students. The importance of self-expression and creativity is food for the soul and crucial for well-being. I hope the Peace Corps keeps a strong connection between education and the arts. Mālō aupito, ‘ofa atu. Many thanks and love to you. 

 

 


This story was first published in WorldView magazine’s Summer 2020 issue. Read the entire magazine for free now in the WorldView app. Here’s how:

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Thanks for reading. And here’s how you can support the work we’re doing to help evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers.