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Children's faces light up and smile with 'Make a Wish' program

Nuku'alofa, Tonga

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Kolonga twins Penisimani and Sa'ale Finefeuiaki with Gilli Sinclair
Kolonga twins Penisimani and Sa'ale Finefeuiaki with Gilli Sinclair.

CREATING magic in the lives of five young children who are suffering from life-threatening illnesses, Tonga's first "Make a Wish" program made their wishes come true in Tongatapu on October 6.

Through a partnership between the Child Cancer Foundation of Tonga (CCFT) and New Zealand Make a Wish, a team carrying gifts visited the homes of five children

Child Cancer Foundation of Tonga team, from left, Sinai Tu'itahi, Robina Nakao, Vika Taufa, Kulaea Lavaki, Moala Sisifa and Silia Tupou
Child Cancer Foundation of Tonga team, from left, Sinai Tu'itahi, Robina Nakao, Vika Taufa, Kulaea Lavaki, Moala Sisifa and Silia Tupou.

Childhood cancer awareness: Supporting the fighters, Admiring the survivors and Honouring the taken.
Childhood cancer awareness: Supporting the fighters, Admiring the survivors and Honouring the taken.

The children who suffer from cancer and one with a heart defect, had wished for such things as a flat screen television, a play station, a rugby ball and toys and these wishes were granted and brought over from New Zealand by Make a Wish NZ President, Gilli Sinclair.

A six-year-old girl Kaufo'ou Finau of Kolomotu'a, who has a heart defect wished to fly in an aeroplane, and had her wish granted when she received two return tickets to Ha'apai donated by Tonga's domestic carrier Chathams Pacific.

The four other wish recipients were Kitione Mohu (13) of Nukunuku, Te'ia of Tofoa (10), Kaufo'ou Finau (6) of Kolomotu'a, Kiu Tatafu of Tokomololo and Sa'ale Finefeuiaki (6) of Kolonga, who have cancer.

Kitione received his wish that included toys from his favourite superhero, an iPod, marshmallows (his favourite sweet) and a rugby ball.

Another youngster Te'ia who is currently in hospital came home to Tofoa to receive his wish.

The Minister of Health Hon Dr Viliami Tangi was equally delighted with Te'ia watching him open his wish gifts that included a flat screen TV, play station and video games.

The Minister also thanked the Child Cancer and the Make A Wish NZ for the special program.

First program

CCFT President Moala Sisifa said this is the first such program in Tonga in partnership with Make a Wish NZ and they were extremely happy that its launching was successful.

She said to see the children's faces light up and smile from the Make a wish program made it all worthwhile.

"By being sick they are sometimes left out, and the Make a Wish program brings them joy and strength to make it to another day," said Moala.

"It is our hope in the future the Child Cancer Foundation of Tonga would carry on the program on its own with the help of sponsors," she said.

Kitione Mohu (13) of Nukunuku
Kitione Mohu (13) of Nukunuku.

Kitione Mohu (13) of Nukunuku
Kitione Mohu (13) of Nukunuku.

Child cancer services

Gilli said this is the first time the Make a Wish program has come out of New Zealand and she commended the work of the Child Cancer Foundation of Tonga and said they had been amazing in setting up and delivering child cancer services.

She said they had funding from Make a Wish International to set up Make a Wish in the Pacific and they had visited Samoa, Tonga and Fiji.

"Tonga was much further ahead in providing such a better service so we did a lot of extra work for them, which resulted in the launching program yesterday, a wonderful and magical day for the children."

She said the gifts for the wishes were bought with money donated by Make a Wish International and that of Make a Wish Australia costing around NZD$12-13,000.

Members of the CCFT team that spearheaded the visits around Tongatapu included Moala Sisifa, Sinai Tu'itahi Secretary, Silia Tupou Treasurer and board members Vika Taufa, Robina Nakao, Dr Toa Fakakovikaetau and Kulaea Lavaki (17) a cancer survivor.

Kitione Mohu visited by the Make a Wish Tonga team
Kitione Mohu visited by the Make a Wish Tonga team.

Finau Kaufo'ou (6) of Kolomotu'a
Finau Kaufo'ou (6) of Kolomotu'a.

Kaufo'ou Finau receives an air ticket from Chathams Pacific, Adrian Ali
Kaufo'ou Finau receives an air ticket from Chathams Pacific, Adrian Ali.

Make a Wish visits Kaufo'ou Finau at Kolomotu'a
Make a Wish visits Kaufo'ou Finau at Kolomotu'a.

Te'ia Mala'efo'ou (10) of Tofoa
Te'ia Mala'efo'ou (10) of Tofoa.

Te'ia Mala'efo'ou with Dr Toakasi Fakakovikaitau
Te'ia Mala'efo'ou with Dr Toakasi Fakakovikaitau.

Make a Wish team visits Te'ia Mala'efo'ou (10) of Tofoa
Make a Wish team visits Te'ia Mala'efo'ou (10) of Tofoa.

Minister of Health Dr Viliami Tangi joins the presentations for Te'ia Mala'efo'ou
Minister of Health Dr Viliami Tangi joins the presentations for Te'ia Mala'efo'ou.

Gilli Sinclair with Te'ia Mala'efo'ou of Tokomololo
Gilli Sinclair with Te'ia Mala'efo'ou of Tokomololo.

Gilli Sinclair and cancer survivor Kulaea Lavaki (17)
Gilli Sinclair and cancer survivor Kulaea Lavaki (17).

The Make a Wish Tonga team
The Make a Wish Tonga team.

Kiu Tatafu (6) of Kolomotu'a meets Gilli Sinclair
Kiu Tatafu (6) of Kolomotu'a meets Gilli Sinclair.

Kiu Tatafu (6) of Kolomotu'a
Kiu Tatafu (6) of Kolomotu'a.

Make a Wish Tonga with Kiu Tatafu (6) of Kolomotu'a
Make a Wish Tonga with Kiu Tatafu (6) of Kolomotu'a.

A wish come true for Sa'ale Finefeuiaki (6) of Kolonga
A wish come true for Sa'ale Finefeuiaki (6) of Kolonga.

Kolonga twins Sa'ale and Penisimani Finefeuiaki
Kolonga twins Sa'ale and Penisimani Finefeuiaki.

Make a Wish visits Sa'ale Finefeuiaki (6) of Kolonga
Make a Wish visits Sa'ale Finefeuiaki (6) of Kolonga.