Earlene Lokotui

“My name is Earlene Lokotui and I am from Tofoa. My father is a pastor and my mother works for the Government.  There are seven of us children and I’m the third. I graduate this year (2015) with a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Economics and Management from the University of the South Pacific, Tonga.

I also take care of a special programme for ‘dropouts’ who haven’t completed Form 5 (High School).  They come in every day with different problems… I’m only 23 years old. I don’t know a lot but I try to help them whenever I can. Half of them make it into degree programmes, the other half work; I think we’re helping them.”

Grandpa's Truck

Oh the joy of riding out on Saturdays: fresh roasted peanuts, crisp two pa’anga notes, occasional ice-cream … I would be the happiest person on earth in that truck.

“A contractor at the Ministry of Works, Grandpa was hired to tar-seal the roads in Tongatapu. A man of few words, he worked very hard to provide for us. My siblings and I lived for Saturdays, when Grandpa got paid and would take us out shopping in his big white truck… I didn’t care that Grandpa’s truck was more than a fun childhood ride – it made him a useful man, gave him a purpose, helped put food on the table. It gave him pride.

Growing up I spent most of my time with my Grandfather, so he holds a special place in my heart. He’s very special. When we finished I copied the video and showed it to my Grandma and I was telling them, ‘my story is the cheesiest story of all the stories’, but then she cried because we all loved our Grandpa but I guess no one’s ever done anything to [honour him]… She really liked it, she was crying all the time.  She watched it a hundred times already.”