Lasting change in Tonga with VSA and Live & Learn

Submitted by Live & Learn on Thu, 06/08/2020 - 12:31

Live & Learn Environmental Education has partnered with New Zealand organisaion Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA) to expand its work improving infrastructure, education, and climate resilience in pacific communities. 

VSA volunteer Joanna Lentfer has spent eight months helping Live & Learn establish its Tonga office.

Unfortunately, her assignment assisting with Live & Learn Tonga’s first water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) project as a result of COVID-19. Excited to return Joanna said, “We’ve worked with village water committees on how to manage finances and provided plumbing training and we’ve been working with pre–schools and kindies, teaching children about handwashing. We’ve put together operating manuals and educational resources in Tongan and worked hands–on with people on how to keep their rainwater systems maintained.”


Live & Learn Executive Director Christian Nielsen said: “With offices in seven South Pacific Islands and a focus on six key areas of development, Live & Learn covers a lot of ground. It’s a network of local organisations in the Pacific and Asia and is a relatively new partner for VSA, but having spent most of my career in the South Pacific I have seen the power of development approaches that focus on building confidence and connectivity, and that use strengths that already exist." 

In the South Pacific, Live & Learn and VSA work with more than 500 partners, including local schools, health clinics and local institutions. Localising development efforts and allowing space for people and communities to grow in their own time leads to change that lasts. The challenges facing the South Pacific can best be addressed by building strength from within, and allowing space for local communities and people to lead, localise development solutions and build relationships between communities, and governments. 
This story was mentioned in VSA’s latest newsletter, Vista.

VSA volunteer Joanna with Live & Learn Tonga staff