Tonga National Youth Congress (TNYC) in collaboration with Tupou High School and the University of the South Pacific Tonga campus conducted an excellent production Love for Life: Silence and HIV.
Through the story of Mele- a mother of two with an abusive and unfaithful husband for years – the audience is taken on a journey of emancipation. Mele learns how to stand up for herself and finds God in the process. The performance deals with the difficulties of living with HIV/ AIDS and the cross cutting issues of domestic violence, mythology, modernity, Christianity, gender issues, stigma and discrimination.
Written in 2009 for the Fiji Pacific Youth Festival, Love for Life: Silence and HIV was produced and directed by Allan Alo and poet Frances Koya with music directors were Calvin Rore and Damiano Logaivau. The Tonga version starred Mele Pelenato, Mele Maher , Tevita Hafoka and Fifita Selui in the lead roles.
Siaila Jagroop from the TNYC believes that the performance encourages young Tongans to help break the silence on HIV “Being silent about HIV continues to hold people captive in ignorance to stigma and discrimination. Breaking the silence can be achieved through many ways from dancing to singing and even plain conversations. The teams from Oceania together have paved the way for breaking the silence that continues to produce misunderstanding and misleading assumptions.”