December Monthly Spotlight: Barbara Rose Ma’u Lavakei’aho (a.k.a Lose)

December Monthly Spotlight: Barbara Rose Ma’u Lavakei’aho (a.k.a Lose) Peace Corps Tonga Programming and Training Assistant

Please meet our December Monthly Spotlight: Barbara Rose Ma’u Lavakei’aho (a.k.a Lose)!  

She was born and raised in Ngele’ia, a village in the capital city of Nuku'alofa, on the main island of Tongatapu. She first attended the Government Primary School of Ngele’ia and then entered Tonga High School. After Tonga High School, she furthered her education, first at  Tonga National Form 7 and then took a one year course in Tourism and Hospitality.  

Lose is a proud wife and mother to three beautiful children. In her spare time, she loves to spend time with her children, husband, eldest sister, an uncle and elderly parents. She also notes that she is very spiritual and makes time to pray and read her Bible.  

For the past 14 years, Lose has worked for the United States Peace Corps in Tonga.  She first started as a language tutor for arriving Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) on a part-time basis, but transitioned to take on other roles.  She is now a permanent staff member and currently works as the Programming and Training Assistant for the Director of Programming and Training. Moreover, she also is also the Language and Cross Cultural Coordinator and the Sexual Assault Response Liaison (SARL) for volunteers. 

She recounts fondly how she first connected with the Peace Corps: “I remember one day, I was standing on the veranda at the place where I was taking the course for tourism and hospitality.  While I was standing there, I saw the Peace Corps van drive by and while I watched, I told myself that one day, I will be in that van. Within two years from that day it was not a dream anymore; it was real, I was finally in that Peace Corps van. I rode in the Peace Corps van for over 14 years and it has been the toughest ride I have ever loved!!”  

When asked what she is most proud of professionally, she emphatically stated, “I am so proud that I went from a Language tutor to a Language Cross Cultural Coordinator. The Peace Corps gave me a variety of training and learning opportunities to make sure that I had the knowledge, skills, and the right attitude to be fully equipped to handle my job. I am so grateful to God, all of my supervisors, bosses, co-workers, and Volunteers for believing in me. I am who I am today, especially in my professional capacity, because of all of you!”

She also believes her time with the Peace Corps radically changed her perspective on life.  She originally thought “life was easy and everyone experienced life similarly, but they do not!   Working with the Peace Corps forced me to be humble and to love and put others before me. I’ve learned to serve others and understand them. I believe God blessed me with this opportunity to work with the Peace Corps and to mold me to be the person He wants me to be.”

This Friday, Lose will close out her time with the Peace Corps, so she can spend more time with her family.  When asked what she will remember most about working for the Peace Corps, she stated, “‘EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE!! I will always remember the Peace Corps as my first “mentor” about life. The Peace Corps taught me how to live life in any situation and how to work with people. And I will always remember all the Volunteers that I have worked with and all the co-workers in Peace Corps Tonga and Peace Corps worldwide. Thank you all so much for all your hard work, dedication, commitment, love and support to make this organization one of the best organizations in the world to promote peace and friendship!  I will miss my ride with the Peace Corps so much and I will treasure it forever in my heart! Thank you Peace Corps for everything! ‘Oku ou ‘ofa lahi atu kiate kimoutolu!”

Though her time with the Peace Corps is closing, Lose still would love to stay connected with the RPCV community and all of the friends and family she has made over the years.  One way she plans to stay connected is that she has generously offered to be a part of the Friends of Tonga education committee to help offer insight on how FoT can best serve the Tonga community.  When asked what she would like to see Friends of Tonga accomplish, she simply said, “I would like to see Friends of Tonga accomplish whatever things they aim to do but to not forget who TONGA really is!”