Giving back in Tonga

Meet Sosefina Fineanganofo, a remote turned in-country volunteer, who has come full circle with her volunteering journey.

aerial shot of the islands with housing and infrastructure.

Here, Sosefina, an Australian volunteer of Tongan heritage, shares her story about volunteering with a technical institute in Tonga and the joy of giving back to her country of birth.

'The partner organisation I’ve worked with, the 'Ahopanilolo Technical Institute (ATI) in Tonga, aims to provide high-quality education and important life skills to people from all walks of life, improving the lives of low-income Tongans and out-of-school youth,’ says Sosefina.

‘I started working with the Institute on a remote assignment that was extended twice. My assignment was to review the Hospitality Accommodation Services Programme. We managed to upgrade the curriculum to the next level and advised the Tonga National Qualifications and Accreditation Board about the review. The Accommodation Services Programme has become a very popular choice for school leavers who wish to pursue a career in the hospitality industry', says Sosefina. 

In an additional remote assignment, Sosefina worked as a Curriculum Developer for a Labour Mobility Pathway initiative, preparing Tongans who have the desire to travel overseas to work in fields such as seasonal fruit picking, tourism, hospitality and aged care. This training was the first of its kind to be made available in Tonga, and ATI will pilot the program before it is offered elsewhere in the Pacific Islands.

This assignment was also extended to complete the addition of special units in the Tongan language, with greater emphasis on cultural issues to be of guidance to prospective Tongans working abroad. Following the remote assignments, Sosefina started an in-country assignment as a Trainer and Mentor at ATI, teaching the program in Tonga.

‘I was keen to take part in volunteering as a way of giving back to my country of birth. Having spent 10 years of my career teaching hospitality, I felt my skills and experience were worth sharing with the youth of Tonga,’ says Sosefina.

‘I thoroughly enjoyed volunteering remotely, thanks to the technology in place, which made communication easier. All the assignments I took on were a good challenge. 

'I greatly appreciated the support from my partner organisation, as well as the Australian Volunteers Program. The biggest highlight is now being in-country to partake in teaching modules that I partially developed while volunteering remotely. Teaching and sharing onsite is so rewarding and I will definitely do it again!’