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Relief Update: The Saracens Support FoT and Fill Major Gap in Funding Displaced Students

Dear Friends of Tonga Community,

We are absolutely thrilled to announce that The Saracens raised $14,888.56 GBP ($18,402.26 USD) for Friends of Tonga’s disaster relief projects!  Their top Tongan rugby players: Mr. Mako Vunipola, Mr. Billy Vunipola, Mr. Manu Vunipola, Mr. Kapeli Pifeleti launched a GoFundMe campaign in the immediate aftermath of the Hunga-Tonga Hunga-Ha’apai volcanic eruption and subsequent tsunami. We are honored and humbled by their choice to support our efforts. 

We are pleased to share that this donation is already being put to good use. Friends of Tonga has transferred $10,500 USD to The Civil Society Forum of Tonga (CSFT) to support every single student that was displaced from outer island communities, which covers all school fees, uniforms, books, and incidentals. This gap was identified by the Tongan Ministry of Education and has gone unfunded until now. This need was becoming even more dire, since some of the students were given notice that they were to be removed from school. We will be providing additional support in outyears to these students, until their families are stabilized. 

Moreover, we will be covering the cost of tuition for identified community leaders to receive certificates in counseling and crisis support, all of which will further provide stability to the most vulnerable communities. The breakdown is below: 

  • Scholarships and support for students displaced by the tsunami.

    • Communities: Nomuka, Mango, Longolongo, and Atatā

    • Students supported: 53

  • Capacity training for community leaders and CSFT Staff

    • Counseling certification from the Tupou Tertiary Institute (TTI)

    • Individuals supported: 5

We are incredibly grateful to the Saracens and their entire community for supporting and championing our disaster relief efforts. These gaps in service delivery would have gone unanswered if it were not for their compassion and generosity. We are proud to be a part of the Saracens community and look forward to cheering them on and off the field! Likewise, we are honored to have the Saracens as a part of the Friends of Tonga community! We have sent Mako, Billy, Manu, Kapeli, and the leadership of the Saracens Friends of Tonga t-shirts; we hope they wear them with pride!

Lastly, since we have been fully-focused on supporting disaster relief efforts, we have been unable to put together a traditional newsletter. We apologize for this inconvenience. In its stead, we are providing our Financial and Annual Report from 2021 here

We look forward to providing you with additional updates in the coming weeks. 


Malo ‘aupito,

The Friends of Tonga Board