Luisa Telefoni’s Story
My name is Luisa Telefoni, 52 years of age. I have resided in my home in Seattle since the 1980’s. I had been at this residence with my former husband and children for 26 years. We lived a normal life, just like every other family without knowing there are secrets behind it all. We had four children, born and raised at this house, and now four grandchildren born and raised at this house.
This house means so much to me, because with no experience I gave this house the fight of my life to save, and even though I released my name from this house to Jorge Bautose, my son, we’re still fighting the fight for it. We struggle in every way with this but I’m pretty sure my friends and family with the help of my God will be with us. As of right now, I have members of my family with their children and grand children, brothers and their families are living with us because they have lost their house to foreclosures and now we are all at the final mark of the line. But I don’t see the end of the line yet because I have my friends from the SAFE house who are willing to work with me and fight for my house and for others too.
I know that God works a miracle in all our lives. I had been living in a struggle world with everything, but with my belief in the man upstairs, he’ll stand with us together to fight not just for me, but for others too.
I was born and raised in the Island of Tonga but I became a citizen of the United States with the rest of my family by naturalization. I came from a family of 10 (6 girls and 4 boys) and I am the youngest of the girls and #8 in the line of children. We were raised Christian and we still are even though we all separated into different religions but we have strong relationships with God.
Our father Sitiveni came to the United States in 1978 and gathered some of the Tongans in Seattle to start our Tongan Community Churches, in which our community gathers every Sunday. That included Mormon, Catholic, Saturday Adventist, and Methodist. My father is well known in the island as a composer of different music from Hymn Songs, to Gospels and Culture songs. He came from a line of leaders of Free Church of Tonga since 1800 until now.
Our island is ruled by a king, which is the last Monarchy in the South Pacific. Both of my parents came from the Royal Line in history, that makes us here in Seattle and others in our community hosts for the royalties when they visit the United States. In 1982 King Tupou IV came over to Seattle to visit with his son who is our King Siaosi Tupou VI right now. King Siaosi the VI happened to come over to our house and have dinner with our family. As of right now, my brother Sonay has married our King’s royal niece who’d here in Seattle right now.
Our life in Tonga is so free to live but financially is the only problem. We were educated in the island and learned English as our second language but then we spread out all over the world to seek help financially. Most of us here in the United States are helping each other and watch over each other and even though we have so little food to share we’ll share with each other to live. But if we have extra money we’ll share them with the rest of our family back home in Tonga. We all grew up having each other and helping each other. Share with each other, that is why in Tonga there are no homeless. They borrowed from each other if you don’t have what you need. Our culture is very strong when it comes to families and relationships. Our children are our first priorities to make sure that they have a roof over their head and food to eat.