For Inesi Saafi the Langimalie Health Centre in Onehunga has made him feel connected to the health system for the first time in years.
‘We were strangers in Auckland and the centre has been very helpful. I feel safe and looked after here. People talk in our language so communication is much better and that helps me understand ways to look after my health.’
Inesi moved to Auckland from Dargaville in February after spending 3 months in Australia visiting his mother and some of his siblings.
The 65-year-old was diagnosed with diabetes in 2001 and, while he had been having some success in controlling his diet and exercise, it all got out of hand during his Australian trip.
‘It was so nice to see my family and we ate lots of traditional food, pig on the barbeque and things like that.’
When he visited Langimalie to sign up with a GP and renew his medication, the doctor found his sugar levels were too high and referred him to Fifita’s clinic.
Fifita now monitors his blood pressure and sugar levels and has also visited his home where his mother-in-law, who also has diabetes, is living.
Inesi and his wife are once again reassessing their diet and lifestyle. There is no coconut cream used in cooking, and ice cream and island food is only for special occasions. Every morning, after a bowl of wheat biscuits, Inesi walks the grandchildren to school, which takes about half an hour there and back.
He says 2 of his 8 children also have diabetes.
‘We tell them to stop eating so much meat and fatty food and that some food is not good. I hope the centre can help us more with helping them too.’
This story is part of Tongan Health Society’s Langimalie Centre cardiovascular disease projects.
Read the next story in this series: In much better shape in every way.