When twelve-year-old twin sisters Lesieli and Anitimoni Ahokava went to Tonga for the first time for their grandmother’s funeral, they were surprised to see how many children did not attend school.
“It was sad to see so many kids, including members of our own family missing out on an education”, Lesieli said, “because I know how important it is!”
They returned from Tonga talking about what they’d seen and learned from their older sister Tracy, that there was a shortage of books in Tonga and there wasn’t even a public library. The girls were determined to do something about this situation.
“Everyone has a purpose in life,” said Anitimoni, “education can help you know what your purpose is and [how to] achieve it.”
The twins made up their minds to collect as many books as they could and send them to Tonga. They made posters and displayed them all over the neighbourhood and in the church. They took boxes into schools looking for donations, reached out to friends and family on Facebook and went into their local public libraries asking for any surplus books.
“It took a while for people to actually give us anything,” Lesieli said, “but we just kept going until it started taking off.”
At last the girls had a load of books to donate, but they needed money to send it to Tonga.
“Our sister suggested we busk for the money”, said Anitimoni, who plays the flute.
For Lesieli, who plays the violin, this would be her first public performance and she was scared!
“We practised a lot so that we would get a lot of money,” Lesieli said, “but I was still scared when I got there. The more I played the more comfortable and confident I became. I felt so accomplished afterwards.”
Once the girls had the money they needed for shipping costs, they sent the books to a family friend in Tonga who worked at the Liahona High School. She distributed the books to five different schools: Havelu GPS, Fua’amotu GPS, Ocean of Light School, Mangaia Primary School and Liahona High School.
“I felt happy and so proud of myself for doing this service for others”, Lesieli said.
“I have felt the spirit with me as we collected the books,” said Anitimoni, “doing this service has brought me so much joy.”
With their family and friends actively supporting their efforts, the girls are already gathering another load of books to send to Tonga.
I feel like I have more love for the people of Tonga”, older sister Ofa commented. “I don’t see the individuals who receive the books we send but I know that Heavenly Father loves them and has inspired us to do this.”