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2 Tongan mothers desperate to get home

By Kristen Consillio

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    HONOLULU (KITV) — A week after a massive earthquake and tsunami devastated Tonga, many here in Hawaii are worried about their families back home.

On Friday, Soana Akauola finally spoke with her 6-year-old daughter staying with family back in Tonga. The mother of two is stuck on Oahu after bringing her teenage daughter here for medical care before the pandemic.

With COVID-19 restrictions and the suspension of domestic flights, she has no way to return to her family in crisis on the main island of Tongatapu.

Through an interpreter, she expressed her heartache and grief.

“We’re very anxious to go back and see our families,” Akauola said. “My heart and soul yearns to be with my family and my child back at home. I hope there will be some kind of way for us to be able to return back to Tonga and reunited with my family, especially during this hard time.”

She said her family has enough food, but water supplies are dwindling. The disaster has impacted an estimated 84%of Tonga’s population — or about 90,000 people, according to the Tonga government.

Another mother of eight — also stranded here after bringing her son to Oahu for surgery — is overwhelmed by feelings of helplessness, thousands of miles away from home.

“Since the earthquake and the tsunami happened in Tonga, we haven’t been able to sleep, food doesn’t have any taste,” said Liteina Ofakineiafu. “There’s not much we can do here. All we can do is pray, and hopefully they’ll be help soon.”

The government of Tonga announced food rations, water and other relief items are currently being distributed on Tongatapu as workers begin to alleviate food and water shortages.

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CNN Newsource

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