Onna Tangifolau broke down in tears when talking about the support the community has shown for her family.
Mrs Tangifolau's 4-year-old daughter Katea was born with club foot and requires corrective surgery.
But the family face deportation back to Tonga.
Since an article was published in the Oamaru Mail last week, the family have received supportive phone calls, cards and cheques in the mail.
"I wish that people could see my heart," she said. "They will see how much is in our hearts."
Katea was born with the congenital disorder and has already had two surgeries, one in Tonga and another in 2010 at Dunedin Hospital.
Katea's father Saia Tangifolau moved to Oamaru nearly five years ago. However, Immigration New Zealand has told the family they must return to Tonga in February 2013. Attempts to renew permits to allow Katea to have her operations have been declined.
Immigration NZ general manager of visa services Nicola Hogg said the family is living in New Zealand unlawfully and is encouraged to return to Tonga voluntarily.
Mrs Tangifolau said claims the family have taken advantage of Katea's condition to remain here hurt deeply.
"No mum and dad would take advantage of their children," she said.
"We want her to have a better life and have better treatment."
Mrs Tangifolau said the family have remained truthful throughout the whole ordeal.
Mr Tangifolau has been working at Lean Meats Oamaru Ltd for the past five seasons and manager Jeff Spillane said he has been a valuable employee.
"We would certainly welcome any legal means that would result in him being able to stay in the country and our workforce," he said. "He is a well-trained slaughter man for both beef and sheep."
"We do intend to communicate these comments via a letter to the relevant authorities and have done so verbally already."
Mr Spillane said the company respected that Immigration NZ had procedures to follow and requirements to enforce.
If deported, the family are worried their daughter's foot will not be treated. Club foot is when the foot turns inward and downward. Katea's club foot restricts her from day-to-day activities and she often wakes up crying because of the pain.
The cost of the surgery in Dunedin amounted to $11,700 and for the second operation to take place, the full amount of the first and a percentage of the second had to be paid.
On the eve of the second surgery, a financial adviser from Dunedin Hospital contacted the family and said the operation could not go ahead without the payment.
The operation in Tonga left Katea with a large scar and an infection in her foot, and Mrs Tangifolau is worried it will happen again if the procedure is not done in New Zealand.
"If it gets infected, she could lose her foot and I don't want that to happen," she said.
Tonga has the highest incidence of club foot in the world, with one baby in 100 born with the condition, and Mrs Tangifolau does not understand why the country does not have better facilities to deal with the condition.
"When Katea was born with club foot, Saia asked if she can have a cast right away but the doctor said you have to wait for a month," she said.
The past five years have placed the family in extreme debt but Mrs Tangifolau said they have never asked for handouts.
"We like to deal with our own things and work to get money," she said.
"If they give us a chance, we will work and pay for the bill [operation]."
When asked whether she was scared to be deported, Mrs Tangifolau said only for her children.
"I'm not scared but I'm worried about my children. It will be hard but we will survive," she said.
"I'm worried about my children's education and the operation."
With Christmas approaching, Mrs Tangifolau said the community had been donating time, support and money, which was overwhelming for the family.
"To all the people in Oamaru, we really appreciate it," she said.
"We feel like the community and the people are with us. They make us feel strong."
To express your support, you can phone 434 7671.