When he was young, Sione loved wood-carving, learning practical skills informally from an uncle. In 2010, Sione had an accident which left him wheelchair-bound. Sione faced many challenges, including finding paid work to meet his financial needs.
Sione, who is engaged by the Tonga National Youth Congress (TNYC), was one of 3 people with disabilities who participated in a formal pearl carving training facilitated by Tonga Skills in 2017.
The training helped Sione learn how to apply his wood carving skills to pearls – where there is high tourist and domestic demand. Sione’s newly acquired skills have enabled him to double his income, and he is now able to live independently.
“I love not being looked at as dependent on my families and friends. Self-reliance is something that has been built within myself with the new skills acquired”.
Inclusion is a core principle of Tonga Skills, and the broader support of the Australian Government to Tonga – particularly with regard to people with disabilities. During the 2017 International Day for People with Disabilities celebrations, Tonga Skills and its key partners emphasised the commitment to continue to focus on creating equal opportunities for training and employment for people with disabilities.