Tonga youth NGO hopes to end violent school rivalries

Tonga's only youth run NGO is hoping to end violent interschool rivalries through its mentorship and outreach programmes.

Fighting between high school students, particularly boys, is a serious problem in the kingdom with some deep historical and religious roots.

In the worst altercations children have been admitted to hospital with serious injuries and there has even been a stabbing according to, Mele Fonua, the chief operating officer of the organisation,Tonga Youth Leaders.

Fonua and her colleagues work to try and connect youths with mentors in fields or areas of interest to them.

They recently organised a three day camp bringing together over a hundred students from rival schools.

"It is a different take on what the government and other NGO's have started because this is led by young people," Mele Fonua said.

"People who have been through this, who have been in the fights, who know what the impacts are on young people. Who have seen like the negative impacts and all of the opportunities that young people who are involved in this get cut off from."

Fonua, said as well getting to know each other better the students learned about developing healthy respectful relationships, anger management and other life skills.

This was reinforced with special video messages from rugby stars Malakai Fekitoa and Taniela Tupou.

The speaker of parliament Lord Fakafanua, who is one of the youth mentors, also had a crucial role in the camp which concluded with a music concert involving performances from the students and youth participants.

Mele Fonua said seeing friendships develop between students who would normally be at each other's throats was very special.