Tongan alumni exchange ideas and opportunities at meet-up in Nuku’alofa

Tuesday, February 20, 2024
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Tongan Women’s Developmental Leadership Program alumni recently got together in downtown Nuku’alofa for a rich talanoa in which they shared their experiences, ideas for possible project collaboration and deepened their professional and social relationships.  

Organised by WLI alumna and National Coordinator for the Australia Pacific Climate Alumni Network (APCAN) Lilu Moala, the alumni-only meet-up provided a chance to reflect on life and leadership since joining WLI and workshop potential projects to propose to the Leadership Fund.

According to Lilu, the event was “crucial” to nurture a strong local network of highly-experienced Tongan women who can work together to bring benefits to national development “instead of migrating for greener pastures overseas”.

About the alumni-only catch-up

On Wednesday 20th December 2023, Lilu joined six fellow Tongan WLI alumni for dinner and refreshments at Friends Cafe in the Tongan capital.  

Lilu explains, “The event was not just social, but also a professional networking opportunity to share contacts, expertise and insights on topics of significance including leadership, challenges facing Tongan women in politics, climate change and disasters in Tonga and study and work opportunities.”  

The event brought together WLI alumni from different professional and academic backgrounds and provided “a safe and relaxed space for sharing of personal and professional experiences and lessons learned overcoming leadership challenges”.

As a climate change advocate, Lilu says the event also enabled her to share contextual information which led to discussions of project proposals to submit to WLI’s Leadership Fund round focused on climate change and disaster.  

Originally planned for an hour and a half, the six attending women stayed at the get-together for almost four hours due to the richness of their discussions; which also touched on self-care, financial independence, family obligations and how the group can support current and future Tongan WLI participants.  

[Pictured from left to right: Lilu Moala, Nehusita Vakaola and Tracey Tupou]

Future aspirations for the Tongan WLI network

According to Lilu, the event represents the growing network of Tongan WLI women who can work together to plan, fund and implement projects and other awareness-raising activities “for the betterment of women and local communities, contributing to the development in Tonga”.  

“It’s crucial to maintain these networks and connections, especially for those of us remaining back in our home countries, instead of migrating for greener pastures overseas,” Lilu says.  


Lilu Moala is an alumna of the Women’s Developmental Leadership Program. Over 18 months (and beyond), participants of the program establish the foundations of developmental leadership, develop their own leadership style, and foster regional and country-based connections to drive lasting change. Alumni of the program continue to access bespoke support to exercise developmental leadership upon their return to the Pacific.

Learn more about the Women's Developmental Leadership Program