Sunshine of a smile

SOMEONE once said: “Give a stranger one of your smiles, it might be the only sunshine he sees all day.”

At one of Kolomatua’s hotel on the small island Kingdom of Tonga, there’s a ray of sunshine touching all who enter the reception area of the Little Italy Hotel.

An angel even some might venture to say. That’s how people feel when Veisina Fangufangu goes about making sure all of the hotel guests enjoy their stay.

She was the lady who checked in the whole lot of regional journalists on a Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program tour.

With a petite built and long hair, Vei as she is affectionately known, can be pictured as the mermaid princess because of her friendly nature. Her contagious smile is such it invites a person, making him or her want to know more about and tell, even if just a bit, of her story.

She did not hesitate to answer questions, even if they were personal and might have been considered by someone not so friendly, as invasive of their privacy.

Without sighting her wedding band, it can be somewhat of a surprise that Vei has three children ? Sarah, Pauli and Sefana.

“I started here in 2008, just when the hotel was opened and I’m married to Moa Fangufangu from Uiha, another island in the kingdom,” Vei said as she explained how she got to be at her station.

Vei said the Italian gentleman, who owned the hotel resided in New Zealand, and was married to her aunt.

“The unusual bit is that I studied business management at Tupou Tertiary Institute,” Vei said.

For a native of the Friendly Isles, the thought of sharing some of her smiles around to visitors to her country just never occurred to her as she worked hard at an education through her primary and secondary school years.

“I started my primary education at Apiakoteu and later joined Ocean of Light, from there my secondary school was Queen Salote College and I finished it at Tonga High School for my last year,” Vei said.

“But I love meeting people, and that made this job the best,” she said.

And the family support which is evident in Tonga is something Vei can always bank on. That’s because Vei’s mother is the maid while her dad is the driver at the same hotel.

When not lending her radiance to the reception area, Vei can be found helping out at the hotel’s restaurant. With her smile, Vei makes sure guests, apart from the satisfaction afforded by a hearty meal, take with them a little bit of warmth which can only be found in this particular spot in the Kingdom of Tonga.

When asked about her ability to not only multitask at the hotel but also smile as she attended to her job, Vei simply said: “Work here is fun.”

It was only towards the end of her education when she began working part-time at the hotel that Vei begin to take an interest in tourism. It is an interest, after some nurturing, is today her passion.

And for this she has no lack of motivation. The beautiful faces of her three children motivate her to keep her cool at work and being at peace with all.

That way, strangers who walk into the Little Italy Hotel are immediately warmed by the warmth from the in-house “sun”, become friends for the duration of their stay who promise to return.