Tonga is the first place in the world to see the sunrise, every morning I ran along the beach, being one of the first people in the whole world to watch the sunrise!
I have had the most rewarding experience working in Tonga for the past 2.5 weeks. I have met many extremely disadvantaged, unwell people and the hospital staff who care for them with minimal resources though always laughing and smiling. Tonga is made up of over 170 islands and they only have 1 dietitian!! That is crazy, Teli works endlessly with minimal support and resources to care for her patients but is in need of desperate help. To put this is perspective a hospital in Australia of the similar size would have over 20 dietitian just working in the hospital and many more in the community.
Tonga has a high prevalence of obesity and diabetes due to their traditional produce being so high in carbohydrates and the introduction of westernised junk food. Tonga is working with health professional from Australia, NZ and America to stop this epidemic. In Tonga, big is beautiful and it is seen as a sign of wealth if you are bigger therefore there are ZERO cases of eating disorders here, they just don’t exist! How amazing is that! Even though some of the population is obese they love themselves and their bodies. I really think Australia and the rest of the world should think the same way. Love your body from the giggly parts to the stretch marks, everyone deserves to love themselves no matter what!
Tonga is a very family orientated place, every Sunday nothing is open, not even the local coffee shop. Everyone is at home or at church with their families. On Sundays a family might go to church up to 3 times throughout the day. Every service is different and consists of beautiful singing and worships. The singing echoes down the empty streets and brings tears to your eyes.
Whilst working in Tonga I worked closely with the dietitian in the hospital wards and kitchen. I gave a presentation on the importance of nutrition in patients with gestational diabetes to doctors, nurses and nutritionists. I also have a presentation on increasing consumption of local produce and minimising processed and junk foods to over 50 nursing students. I am so grateful for my experience and will always treasure my time in Tonga. This trip has deepened my passion for nutrition to prevent and manage diseases. Thank you for sharing my journey!